A Labor Department analyst said that seasonal factors predicted a large rise in claims.
Unadjusted claims did increase but far less than expected. The distortions due to seasonal factors are likely to be smoothed over the next few weeks.
The state of California, known to report wide swings in its claims data, is being cited as primarily responsible for the sharp drop in the seasonally adjusted number.
The director of the California Employment Development Department, Pam Harris, said all of California’s unemployment insurance claims data had been submitted on time. She said the state was not to blame.
The surprisingly good report was dampened by an increase in the US deficit to $44.2 billion.
Exports of US goods fell for the fifth consecutive month.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since February of 2008, about a year before the current administration took office.
The Labor Department firmly denied any tampering with the unemployment numbers to favor the current administration just before the election.
The Fed also dismissed charges by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, that the unexpected decline in the unemployment rate had been manipulated.
But Europe’s continued sovereign debt issues are putting a drag on exports. Overall, US exports dropped 1% and imports fell .1%, signaling less foreign demand for US goods.
Net exports are expected to subtract as much as half a percentage point from US gross domestic product (GDP).

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