On the surface, the jump in weekly unemployment claims to a 14-month high of 294,000 looks alarming, particularly after April's surprise slowdown in hiring.
But some economists aren't worried yet, since they can explain away a sharp 20,000 increase with one event — spring break for New York City schools.
"The story is that non-teacher school employees (bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc.) are somehow permitted to file for unemployment when schools are closed for a week or two (your tax dollars at work). Since the timing of the breaks swings around from year to year, the seasonal adjustment process is unable to properly take this special factor into account," wrote Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities.