Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekly claims: slow but gradual improvement


Weekly claims for unemployment (seasonally adjusted) were about 12K higher than expected, but that is not a significant amount. The chart above shows unadjusted (actual) claims, which fell by about 5K. This time of the year the seasonal trends are not particularly pronounced, so small variations like these are likely just random—not indicative of any meaningful change in the economic fundamentals. Comparing this week to the same week a year ago, claims are down a little over 10%, and that is the story to focus on: slow, but gradual improvement over time.


Gradual improvement in the state of the labor market also shows up in this chart of the number of people (actual, not seasonally adjusted) who are receiving unemployment benefits. The total has now dropped to a new post-recession low of 6.64 million, and that is down almost 2.5 million from the same week a year ago. The number of people working has increased by about 1.3 million over the past year, so that implies that over a million of the people who have dropped off the unemployment claim rolls are still looking for a job. That's a sorry state of affairs, but at least it means that the government is no longer subsidizing their job search. Life can be difficult at times, but government can't and shouldn't try to take care of everyone who runs into adversity.

6 comments:

Unknown said...

The Labor Department noted that at least 8,500 claims last week and at least 12,500 claims the week before were due to a strike at Verizon in the NYC area.
http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/ui/eta20111248.htm

Dr William J McKibbin said...

The long-term unemployed in the US will likely never work again during their lifetimes in America -- emigration to other countries with their families may be the only option remaining other than charity or destitution -- a new economic number that could be more closely monitored and reported by elites is the weekly or monthly rate of emigration (i.e., the number of Americans who have permanently left the US in order to live and work overseas) -- one could argue that the higher the US emigration rate, the better for the economy...

Kurt said...

I have heard that another silver lining of the recession is that many illegal aliens are returning to Mexico. Does anyone know the statistics on this? (I would assume they are difficult to collect.)

Scott Grannis said...

I too have heard that many Mexicans are returning to their homeland. But that is not necessarily a good thing for the U.S. economy. California is losing legal residents to other states, and that is definitely not a good thing for California. When workers leave for greener pastures, whether they are legal or not, it is a sign of weakness.

Benjamin said...

People blab about structural impediments. Okay--how about keeping out people who want to work?

Alabama just passed some onerous anti-illegal hiring laws. I suspect business will have to migrate out of that state, or pay a lot more for labor.

Meanwhile, the percent of the private-sector work force that is unionized has dropped below 10 percent.

Structural impediments may be less today than ever before in the USA.

Cabodog said...

Let's face it, there are a lot of people out there that deserve permanent unemployment. They're the first to be laid off and the last to be hired.

As an employer, I'd give greater preference to someone recently laid off from a long-term job than I would to a "99er."

I'm sorry to say that education and work ethic are sorely lacking in many individuals. Many employees expect to be paid for just showing up (vs. actually working); it's a very sad state of affairs for most employers.