Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unemployment claims lowest since 2008 as job market improves

December 22, 2011


— 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.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 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


Gandalf 2 years, 3 months ago

This has been a bad week for teapubs! Boner and teaparty get slapped down both democrats and republicans.

Economy is starting to look up. And President Obama populatiry rating has statistically reached back up to 50/50.

Andto top everything off RCP polls show the republican's losing as a party and with every candidate!!

OMG the sky is falling, the sky is falling!!


Agnostick 2 years, 3 months ago

Why, or why not, is this bogus?

"When President Obama makes his pitch to voters next year on why they should elect him to a second term, he'll likely point to some version of this chart.

"What the following chart shows is that Obama inherited a bum economy but that, under his watch, things have begun to turn around. In the past year, the unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point amid improving job growth. Assuming those trends continue, Obama will be able to say that, yes, the economy needs to be much stronger, but that it's currently heading in the right direction.

"That exact pitch helped Reagan win his 1984 reelection bid when he destroyed Walter Mondale —Mondale carried only his home state of Minnesota and Washington D.C. — despite an unemployment rate of 7.4% on election day. One year earlier, unemployment stood at 8.8%, higher than it is today, but it then steadily ticked down over the following months."


Agnostick 2 years, 3 months ago

Not one single link to any sort of statistics, surveys, analyses... nothing.

How about it? How about some of you naysayers actually say something of substance?



ljreader 2 years, 3 months ago

Alabama tied for 2nd in unemployment drop Dec 22, 2011

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama is tied with three other states for the nation's second biggest drop in unemployment in November.

Alabama's rate fell 0.6 percentage points to 8.7 percent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Minnesota, South Carolina and Utah tied Alabama. The biggest drop was 0.8 percentage points in Michigan.

Alabama's rate dropped 0.5 percentage points in October. That tied Alabama for first with Michigan and Minnesota.

HMMMM- Could it be, at least in part, to the "harsh" anti- illegal immigration laws that have been passed in these states? You know, the ones the Obama administration is suing??


yourworstnightmare 2 years, 3 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.


beatrice 2 years, 3 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.


Kat Christian 2 years, 3 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 2 years, 3 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.


weeslicket 2 years, 3 months ago

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


edjayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Of course Wall Street people are going to say it's great. It's good for the stock market.


edjayhawk 2 years, 3 months ago

Unemployment rate went down in November only because of retail for the holidays. Wouldn't surprise me if it goes up again in January and February.


FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 3 months ago

The key is the numerator.

Big Daddy is perfect for America.

The Transformation is near complete. The Governements web that controls Wall Street is sweet and sticky. OWS ruse has the poor and boz believing.

Big Daddy is pertect for America. Harry had this one nailed.


avoice 2 years, 3 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.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 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.


pooter 2 years, 3 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.



jhawkinsf 2 years, 3 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.


Flap Doodle 2 years, 3 months ago

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


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 3 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.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.