Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unemployment claims lowest since 2008 as job market improves

December 22, 2011

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— In the latest sign that the economy is surging at year’s end, unemployment claims have dropped to the lowest level since April 2008, long before anyone realized that the nation was in a recession.

Claims fell by 4,000 last week to 364,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the third straight weekly drop. The four-week average of claims, a less volatile gauge, fell for the 11th time in 13 weeks and stands at the lowest since June 2008.

While the economy remains vulnerable to threats, particularly a recession in Europe, the steady improvement in the job market is unquestionable.

“The underlying trend is undeniably positive,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist with BMO Capital Markets. “I think everyone is starting to come around to the view that, yes, there is a recovery going on.”

Unemployment claims are a sort of week-to-week EKG for the job market. Except for a spike this spring, after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan hurt U.S. manufacturing, they have fallen steadily for a year and a half.

Claims peaked at 659,000 in March 2009. In the four years before the Great Recession, they mostly stayed between 300,000 and 350,000. That claims are edging closer to that range is a sign that the layoffs of the past three years have all but stopped.

“We haven’t yet really seen substantial numbers of new jobs, but this is definitely an encouraging sign of what lies down the road,” said Sam Bullard, an economist at Wells Fargo.

The steady decline may also herald a further decline in the unemployment rate, which fell in November to 8.6 percent from 9 percent the month before. The December rate will be announced Jan. 6.

If unemployment claims keep declining, the unemployment rate might fall as low as 8 percent before the November elections, said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC, a boutique brokerage.

The presidential election will turn on the economy. Ronald Reagan holds the post-World War II record for winning a second term with the highest unemployment rate. He won in 1984 with unemployment at 7.2 percent.

Economists will also watch closely on Jan. 6 to find out how many jobs were added this month. It added at least 100,000 each month from July through November, the best five-month streak since 2006.

“When you fire fewer people, hiring unquestionably follows,” Greenhaus said. He expects employers to create as many as 200,000 jobs per month if the trend continues.

In another encouraging report Thursday, the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose strongly in November for the second straight month, suggesting that the risks of another recession are receding.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"If unemployment claims keep declining, the unemployment rate might fall as low as 8 percent before the November elections, said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC, a boutique brokerage."

Uh oh-- Republicans need to redouble their efforts at doubling the unemployment rate.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 8 months ago

More and more people have given up trying to find a job. That's why unemployment claims have gone down.

beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

From the article: "It added at least 100,000 each month from July through November, the best five-month streak since 2006."

It clearly isn't just people who have stopped looking and stopped collecting unemployment. Sadly, some people seem really upset that others are finding work. They would rather the economy stay in the toilet so their party might win an election. That is just the worst kind of party over country garbage imaginable.

beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

Um ... if the population is increasing by 250,000 (births mostly, I would presume), exactly how many people are dying and retiring during the same period?

What is pathetic is how upset you are to see the economy showing signs of recovering.

beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

Um ... if the population is increasing by 250,000 (births mostly, I would presume), exactly how many people are dying and retiring during the same period?

What is pathetic is how upset you are to see the economy showing signs of recovering.

beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

It is better than 100,000 jobs lost. Don't know why some people are so unhappy not to recognize a positive trend for what it is -- a positive trend.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

Included in the numbers of unemployed include many who "say" they want to become employed, yet they do everything possible to sabotage their employment chances. Between that group and those who have given up, I'd say it's a wash.

pooter 3 years, 8 months ago

The numbers put out by the Labor Dept aren't a true measure of anything.

It's far more likely the job market hasn't really improved and the drop is from the temp job hires done for the holiday season along with more people who have have already run out their benefits and can't file new claims.

*

beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

If it is seasonal, care to speculate why the same didn't happen last year at this time, or the year before that, or the year before that?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

We live in a political/economic culture that expects that only "job creators" can create jobs, and for Republicans, only millionaires can be "job creators."

Only problem is, these hero "job creators" decided long ago that they no longer want to create jobs.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

I created a job for myself. You said in the past you were self employed, so I assume you created a job for yourself as well. Self job creation has long been neglected in the discussions about job creators. That's a shame.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

I agree. But government policy (especially that coming from Republicans) is wholly disinterested in supporting the ability of individuals' ability to create jobs for themselves and others.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

I'd say that the taxing policies and the regulations make it difficult, as well as things we cannot control, like the cost of living in Bangladesh. There's plenty of blame to go around, in addition to things that no one (or everyone) deserves blame.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Massive redistribution of wealth to the 0.1% over the last 30 years coupled with "free trade" policies whose single largest effect is the encouragement of offshoring jobs to Bangladesh, etc., are the two single biggest items to blame. Time to levy back tariffs tied to pay and working conditions, as well as the levying of a worldwide carbon tax.

Beyond fixing the above, creating a single-payer healthcare system could be one of the single biggest boosts to small business in this country.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

I'll tell you a story of a person I knew a number of years ago. He was from El Paso, Texas. He was born on this side of the border, but spoke Spanish fluently and was equally comfortable on either side of the border. He was employed by the State of Texas. But he chose to live on the Mexico side of the border and entered the U.S. each morning to go to work. He did this because what his state check would buy went so much further in Mexico. He lived in a large house and employed two housekeepers. My point is not so much how much you make but what it will buy and what it will buy in relation to others in your community. Suppose some American company paid a Bangladesh worker the same wages an American would make here. That person would be living like a king. Heck, mansions might need to be built, just for such workers since mansions don't exist there.
Working conditions, pay, etc. there don't need to be elevated to the levels here. Indeed, to do so might translate into bizarre situations. Having a 40 hr.s work week here may be the norm, but it may not be so there. Giving someone a middle class income here doesn't mean the same money will buy a middle class lifestyle over there, wherever over there is.

avoice 3 years, 8 months ago

The tip-off that this article is pure propaganda: "In the latest sign that the economy is surging at year's end..." The word "latest" used to promote the unsubstantiated notion that there have been a number of such signs recently. The word "surging" used to further exaggerate the notion that the economy is improving more than the trickle of 0.1 percent increases we are seeing over time in most of the economic measures.

In another AP release today: "The Commerce Department reported Friday that consumer spending rose just 0.1 percent in November. Incomes also rose 0.1 percent. That was the weakest showing since a 0.1 percent decline in August and both figures lagged behind the expectations of most analysts."

The bright news reported in the same article is actually a mixed bag: "The department also says business demand for long-lasting manufactured goods rose by the largest amount in four months in November, however declines in business capital goods excluding aircraft was actually setback in an area that is essential for an economic recovery.

A final report, expected after the market opens, will show how new home sales looked in October. Analysts are expecting the Commerce Department to report that new home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000. That's less than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold to sustain a healthy housing market, with foreclosed homes torpedoing their value."

Economic surge? Propaganda/Poppycock. Take your pick.

weeslicket 3 years, 8 months ago

riddle me this batman: when is good news not good news?

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 8 months ago

This isn't just about unemployment requests dropping.

More jobs have also been created in the last five months. From the article:

"Economists will also watch closely on Jan. 6 to find out how many jobs were added this month. It added at least 100,000 each month from July through November, the best five-month streak since 2006."

I know this must be horrifying for teapublicans, but the economy and job market are improving.

Kat Christian 3 years, 8 months ago

This is such a crock of crap....Unemployment claims are low because most people's funds have run out. Unemployment is a lot higher then they say. Why do they continue to lie to us?

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 8 months ago

Job creation is up as well. From the article:

"Economists will also watch closely on Jan. 6 to find out how many jobs were added this month. It added at least 100,000 each month from July through November, the best five-month streak since 2006."

beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

Some people will obviously complain no matter what good news they are given, even marginally good news as presented here. The only rational response to an improving American economy is "Good, let us hope it continues to improve!" To deny the numbers is just silly.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 8 months ago

Some on this site (I won't mention names, liberty_one) said a year ago that unemployment would be at least 12 percent and the economy would be floundering.

Sorry to bum you out, but the economy appears to be recovering and you were dead wrong.

beatrice 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, I recognize that for some people improvement and things getting better can never happen soon enough. If you can't find something positive in the positive movement in the econmy, then that is on you. Some of us are realists and recognize that the problems we face won't be fixed overnight.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 8 months ago

This good news on the job creation front is a lump of coal in the stockings of teapublicans, those who hope the economy fails just "stick it" to the President.

Sad trombones. Waaa waaa waaa waaaaaaaaaaa.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Not sure where my post went, but I attempted to provide a link to this article--

The Book of Jobs: “A Banking System is Supposed to Serve Society, Not the Other Way Around” Forget monetary policy. Re-examining the cause of the Great Depression—the revolution in agriculture that threw millions out of work—the author argues that the U.S. is now facing and must manage a similar shift in the “real” economy, from industry to service, or risk a tragic replay of 80 years ago.

by Joseph E. Stiglitz

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/01/stiglitz-depression-201201

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