jump to navigation

Initial Unemployment Claims Update – February 2010 March 4, 2010

Posted by geoff in News.

Tomorrow morning we’ll see the latest unemployment figures, but today we get to look at initial unemployment claims for the month of February. After 3 weeks in a row of low claims back in late-December/early January, we’ve seen an almost unbroken string of claims in excess of 470,000. Every time the rate has been below 450,000, the press and administration have told us that the job situation is in recovery, but everytime it’s exceeded 450,000, we’ve heard how “unexpected” it is.

This week they eked out a 469,000, so they didn’t quite break 470,000, though they also added 2000 claims to last week’s report. Economists were expecting 470,000, so I assume that this week’s results will, at last, be “expected.” Here’s the plot:

You can see that the last 6 weeks haven’t been good news as far as economic recovery goes. The projected timeframe of that break-even point has shifted from mid-June to the beginning of August. So in 6 weeks it’s slipped 6 weeks.

I should point out one thing about this chart – I show the break-even range as 300 – 350K jobs, while normally 450K jobs is considered break-even. The difference is that I’ve included the 100 – 150K jobs required to be added due to growth of the working population, which I feel is more representative of a true break-even point.

Resurrecting the Employment Updates June 5, 2015

Posted by geoff in News.
add a comment

I know everybody’s been missing the employment updates I did so faithfully for the past 6 years. As usual, the unemployment rate provided by the BLS (5.5%) is useless. If you’d like a real understanding of the employment situation, I think you’ll do far better to look at this chart, which shows how many full time jobs there are compared to the size of the civilian population:


As you can see, we had a surge in full-time employment in the last half of 2014, but we’ve stalled out since the beginning of the year. So, not a very encouraging report.

The August 2014 Unemployment Situation September 5, 2014

Posted by geoff in News.
add a comment

Today’s employment situation report generated a lot of negative buzz, because it shows a drop in job creation. But looking at the Household Survey (as I do every month), it looks like we actually added a significant number of full-time jobs, since the number of part-time jobs dropped by 370K. Here’s the updated chart:


So we continue on our painfully slow pace back to normalcy, praying another recession doesn’t hit before we get there. Personally, I don’t think we’ll make it.

Unemployment Filings Fail to Impress May 6, 2010

Posted by geoff in News.

It’s unemployment time again – the numbers for the April unemployment rate come out tomorrow. And, as always, the Initial Unemployment Filings report comes out on Thursday, so lets have a gander at that. (It’s all below the fold, folks)


No Change in Unemployment, but We’ve Traded Full-Timers for Part-Timers March 5, 2010

Posted by geoff in News.

Time once again to check in on the unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released the unemployment numbers for February, after a week of preemptive mumbling by the administration about the dire effects of the Snowmageddon on the stats.

Economists were predicting 9.8% (sans snow, I believe), and we got . . . 9.7%. Completely unchanged from last month!

Here’s how that falls on the unemployment chart:

There’s been a growing realization that the unemployment rate doesn’t mean much. Even the U-6 unemployment rate has lost some meaning, because the unprecedented number of workers leaving the workforce has artificially lowered both the U-3 and U-6 rates. In fact, the ratio of employed/population dropped by almost 3% in 2009. Over the past 2 months, however, the workforce has grown by 500,000, so perhaps the exodus from the job market has ebbed.

In any case, that’s why I plot total jobs to get a better feel for how we’re doing. Here’s how that looks:

Last month the number of jobs actually increased by about 550,000 from the month before, but almost the entire increase was in the “Women, 20+” category. This month men caught up a bit, gaining about 200K jobs while women lost 200K. I’m trying to reconcile that zero-sum situation with the 300K jobs supposedly added this month

The two big gainers this month were self-employed agricultural workers (+130,000), and government workers (+65,000). Part-time workers increased by 270,000, and the number of people driven to part-time work due to economic conditions increased by 400,000. That’s not a good sign.

[Don’t forget, you can now get the unemployment chart on t-shirts, mugs, and postcards!]


October Unemployment Rate Jumps Upward ==> 10.2%! November 6, 2009

Posted by geoff in News.

UPDATE: November numbers are here

The economic for October predictions were 175,000 non-farm jobs lost, and an unemployment rate at or just below 10%. Just based on initial unemployment filings, I think you’d have had to count on people continuing to drop out of the system to get numbers that low.

So what actually happened? As of this morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that we lost 190,000 non-farm jobs, and that the unemployment rate has risen to 10.2%. So let’s have a gander at where that puts us on the “OMG Christine Romer and Jared Bernstein Are Teh Suck” chart:


That’s pretty startling. The reason, though, is that fewer people dropped out of the labor force last month. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseam in past posts, the labor market is responding sort of oddly in this recession, with millions of people simply dropping out of the labor force. They’re not counted among job seekers or even discouraged workers – they’re gone completely from the statistics. So a more useful number, I believe, is the number of jobs remaining in the country. Here’s that graph:


Initial Unemployment Claims Drop. Big Deal. November 5, 2009

Posted by geoff in News.

Tomorrow heralds the release of the unemployment numbers for October. 10% here we come!! But to whet your appetite, today we have the seasonally adjusted initial unemployment filings (updated this morning by the Department of Labor).


So we’re declining pretty steadily – in 5 or 6 months we could be down to the break even point (~ 350,000), where we’re no longer seeing more initial filings than hirings. Then, after that, hopefully we’ll see them continue to drop, so that we can start recovering the ~7 million jobs we’ve lost.

But all of that’s true only if the job market behaves as it has in the past, when the number of unemployed was smaller and less persistent. If the initial filings are dropping not because of fewer job losses, but because too many people are ineligible to file (being on unemployment already, for instance), then the declining number of filings isn’t a hopeful sign at all.

The only reliable statistic anymore is the actual number of employed people. Based on the filings so far, I expect tomorrow’s numbers to show that that’s dropped as well. But stand by until about 8:45 EST, and we’ll see what happens.

September Unemployment: The Job Loss Accelerates October 2, 2009

Posted by geoff in News.

UPDATE: October unemployment results are posted here.

The September unemployment rate rose to 9.8%, as expected by economists, representing a modest 0.1% rise from last month:


Once again, the unemployment rate would have risen by a much larger amount if the civilian labor force hadn’t lost 570,000 people since last month. As we mentioned in previous posts, the labor force normally increases by ~ 150,000/month, so that’s a huge, very unusual, decrease. In fact, had the labor force size simply remained the same, the unemployment rate would have jumped to 10.2%

As we did last month, we ask: just how many jobs have we got out there?


Not so many – the pace of job loss seems to have accelerated, with 785,000 jobs lost since last month. That’s the 4th largest loss of jobs in the past year

We’re nowhere near out of the woods yet, folks. (more…)

August Unemployment Data September 4, 2009

Posted by geoff in Economics, Politics.

Update: September’s data is here

The latest numbers, fresh from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


The unemployment rate went up to 9.7%, reversing the improvement we saw in July.  To be fair, “unemployment” is somewhat difficult to measure.  For one thing, the way the unemployment rate is calculated doesn’t take into account the people who are no longer looking for work.  (You know, the “discouraged workers” we heard about endlessly during the Bush years.)  So you could see the economy improve but the unemployment rate actually go up, because more people start looking for work.

So, you might ask:  just how many jobs have we got out there?  Why, looky here, the BLS tracks that as well!


Doesn’t look so good, does it? (more…)

July Unemployment August 7, 2009

Posted by geoff in News.

The BLS released the unemployment rate for July this morning, and the answer is . . . 9.4%. A little lower than the Bloomberg survey predicted it would be, a lot lower than my swag of 9.8%, and, notably, a 0.1% drop from June’s rate of 9.5%.

Here’s how the actual data compares to the projections by Obama’s team:*


Seems a little odd, since we actually lost 155,000 jobs in July (and we lost 247,000 jobs on non-farm payrolls). The only way we can lose jobs and still have the unemployment rate go down is if the labor pool goes down even faster. And in fact that’s what it did, dropping by 422,000 workers. But the “Want a Job” category only increased by about 100K, so where did the other 300K workers go?


As you can see from the chart, both the unemployed and “want to work” categories dropped, and we know that the employed dropped as well. Something’s not right here, unless 300,000 people simply gave up entirely and decided to become bloggers or something.

[This post will be updated this morning as I crunch through the data and add more charts]

*As always, this chart was constructed by overlaying the actual economic data on top of the chart made by Obama’s economic team to market his stimulus plan.

Related posts under the fold:


The Unemployment Prediction for July August 6, 2009

Posted by geoff in News.

Tomorrow the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the unemployment numbers for July. But in the past couple of months I’ve preceded the actual numbers release with an update based on the Bloomberg survey of economists. They’re normally not too far off, though the May prediction was off by quite a bit.

This month they’ve predicted an unemployment rate of 9.6% ==> only 0.1% above the previous month. The real number is likely to be influenced heavily by whether people stay in the “discouraged worker” category or come back into the “unemployed” category. Last month’s number was suppressed by that effect, so this month I personally am looking for something more along the lines of 9.8%.

In any case, here is what The Chart looks like with the Bloomberg prediction:


Not too bad, though it’s striking how the numbers are following the w/o Stimulus curve. It’s almost like the economy is recovering independent of the Stimulus.

Tomorrow the real numbers will come out, and I’m in addition to The Chart, I’m going to plot up private vs. government employment changes (per Michael’s suggestion), and the number of discouraged workers (per numerous suggestions).

Background info under the fold:


Unemployment: June Projection and a Dire Warning of Posts to Come June 30, 2009

Posted by geoff in News.

The official unemployment numbers for June should be out on July 2, but Bloomberg compiled an estimate for June based on inputs from 58 economic experts. Their composite prediction was that unemployment would increase by 0.2% in June. Last month they predicted 0.3%, and we got 0.5%, but they were dead on with their April guess. We’ll see how they do this month.

In any case, here is the unemployment vs. stimulus graph, updated with what people think the BLS will say in a few days:


Of course, by now the Obama administration has acknowledged that their initial predictions for the effectiveness of the Stimulus plan were crazily optimistic, but they have mistakenly blamed it on the Bush administration (“the Bush economy was worse than we thought”). As has been pointed out many times before, from the time of the bill’s passage until early June, they claimed that they fully understood the problem and that the Stimulus was working, even though no money had been spent.

I think that none of us believe that spending $787 billion will not create some employment – it certainly must. The question always was: how much benefit will spending the money have compared to the natural cycle of the economy? The answer, I think, is not much.

I’ll apologize in advance for going “all economy all the time” over the next few days, but I got a green light from the other bloggers here to do just that. So tomorrow I’m going to take a look at a second set of predictions from back in January – the Stimulus-supporting predictions of Moody’s Economy.

Gird thyselves.