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From Barron's

Layoffs appear to have peaked. Initial jobless claims fell 34,000 this week to 601,000. Continuing claims edged up to a new high of 6.351 million from 6.295 million. However, initial claims, which reside in the index of leading economic indicators (LEI), appear to have peaked on March 27 at 674,000. The four-week moving average for initial claims appears to have peaked at 659,000 on April 3. This also comes on the heels of a large pullback in the year-to-year layoff announcements as calculated by executive outplacer Challenger Gray & Christmas.

Let's go to the data.

That's a good looking chart of initial unemployment claims. The bottom line is we have enough data to make a call that the 4-week moving average appears to be topping out. That's a very good sign. But then there was this passage from the Econoday report:

Initial jobless claims showed improvement in the latest week but continuing claims set another record high. Continuing claims in the April 18 week jumped 133,000 to 6.271 million, another record level and the 15th straight increase. A month-to-month comparison, useful for a gauge on the April employment report, showed significant deterioration, up 704,000 from 5.567 million at mid-March. But initial claims appear to have peaked in March, suggesting that continuing claims may plateau within a few months. Initial claims for the April 25 week slipped 14,000 to 631,000, down from 645,000 the week before.

While initial claims are topping, continuing claims are still setting records. That indicates that while the immediate lay-off situation is improving the continuing situation is still poor at best. Here are some relevant charts from the BLS that explain the situation in mare and better detail. I have used (when possible) a time frame that goes back to 1960.

Let's start with the overall unemployment rate which currently stands at 8.5%. This is the second worst rate of unemployment in the last 30 years. Let's delve deeper into the data:

Above are the charts for the number of people unemployed for 15+ weeks and the number of unemployed for 27+ weeks. While the percentage of the population represented by this number would be lower now than in the early 1980s because of the population increase, the absolute number of both figures is at a historical record. That tells us that the rate of job creation -- the flip side of job destruction -- is deteriorating right now.

Above is a chart for the number of people who are part-time for economic reasons. Again -- the absolute number is at a nearly 30 year high.

Finally, the median weeks people are unemployed is high, currently standing at 11.2 weeks. The has been higher twice in the last 30 years.

So -- the rate of job destruction appears to be topping. HOWEVER, we're not out of the woods yet as the rate of job creation has yet to pick up.'

Originally posted to bonddad on Fri May 08, 2009 at 04:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I am on 15+ weeks unemployment now (13+ / 0-)

    and I claim in NY.

    There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

    by abundibot on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:03:47 AM PDT

    •  I'm at approx 11 weeks (including the 2 wk... (8+ / 0-)

      waiting period) in Southwestern Ontario - my city, I believe, has the highest unemployment rate in the country.

      I'm a truck driver, and from what I see and hear, this industry has been ravaged like nothing I've seen before (granted, I haven't been around for 50 years).

      "...I'm hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway."

      by soundchaser on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:10:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I feel for you (9+ / 0-)

      I went through 20 weeks in Maine before I finally stopped claiming.  The claim process here appears deigned to shame one into accepting any employment and I simply couldn't take it any more.  

      When one of the job center employees suggested I forget my 4 year degree and 10 years credit analysis experience and more recent 9 years experience in IT and look at a position as a taxi driver I surrendered.  I simply stopped claiming and am living now on $60-$180 / week I can generate doing PC/network consulting/training.  Regrowing a business I gave up in order to get health insurance before getting laid off.

      No insurance, little income, but at least I'm getting a good garden in this year.

      Politics is like driving - Press D to go forward or R to go backward.

      by hedgerml on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:13:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  gardening (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bob Johnson, ilex, phrogge prince, JesseCW

        i'm seriously considering a little stand for produce this summer - my employment situation is not much brighter than yours, and I've been ramping up the garden for the last three years.
        Wish I could grow Big Macs - they'd probably sell.

        During the campaign, CHANGE was always in caps. I will not settle for small change.

        by kamarvt on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:23:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kamarvt, ilex

          I am probably launching into food entrepreneurship myself.

          Two things inspired me:  The First Lady's garden and the Coffee & Tea Festival which I attended recently in NY.

          There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

          by abundibot on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:40:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  NY's system is easy (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        riverlover, ilex, soundchaser

        though the top available benefit is not high.

        Every Monday, I go to a webpage, and enter on the interview No, 0, 0, 0, 0, No [and the answers to these questions are, of course, true] and by Thursday, a deposit is made.

        There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don't.

        by abundibot on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:39:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ours is pretty much the same way... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ilex

          I think even the answers are pretty close. :)

          The only thing that's either giving me hope, or possibly holding me back, depending on how one looks at it, is that I'm a unionized driver, and I have pretty decent seniority (I think there are 18-20 guys still working, and I'm number 24 in seniority). I hope it doesn't come to it, but we'll see if I need to revisit my thinking in a month or two.

          "...I'm hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway."

          by soundchaser on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:48:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It will get worse (13+ / 0-)

    for some time to come whether or not claims fall.  This is due to two reasons:

    1. no one is hiring and no one is likely to hire soon either due to realized efficiency gains and continued lack of demand.
    1. U-6 is so high that most of those people counted in U-6 (the discouraged/part-timers/etc) will try to re-enter the workforce which will drive the unemployment rate up further and continue a very slow recovery for our economy.

    About the only thing we can look forward to as the data stops deteriorating are increased interest rates and inflation.

    •  asdf (10+ / 0-)

      I think the bleeding has stopped or is stopping.  Barring an unforeseen event I think this should continue.   We've already lost the largest percentage of jobs created in the previous expansion of any recession since the late 1940s.  There's not much more we can realistically lose.

      We're going to be in intensive care for awhile.

      "You think you can intimidate me? Screw you. Choose your Weapon." Eliot Spitzer

      by bonddad on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:10:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wishful thinking... (9+ / 0-)

        Why do you think the bleeding has stopped? "Because X happened a certain way in the past, X will go on happening this way in the future" is not a reason. Nor are any of the various methods of statistical astrology you gave in the diary. What materially has changed in the state of the physical economy? Has the decimation of the manufacturing sector reversed? Did we invent some new made-in-America product that everyone wants to buy? Is there a sudden surge in investment outlays that I'm unaware of?

        Even if we're in a temporary respite because of the stimulus spending, without a roaring recovery in the productive sector - industry and manufacturing - employment created by the stimulus cannot be maintained even over the relatively short term.

        There is no such thing as "renewable energy." The universe is a non-renewable resource. Blog: The Daily Elitist

        by TylerFromNE on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:33:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "The bleeding " slowed very slightly (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, raboof, RFK Lives, ilex, Dems 2008, TylerFromNE

        That happens as the blood pressure drops.

        After 45 seconds of seeing three foot jets come from a severed femoral artery, seeing it go down to six inch gushes isn't a positive sign.

        Crush the Horror.

        by JesseCW on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:36:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Anecdotal hopeful signs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        el dorado gal

        I'm a route driver. When I started seeing almost every production company I deliver to post signs "we are not accepting applications at this time", around November, I knew things were bad. They weren't just not hiring, they weren't bothering taking applications.

        Some of those signs are beginning to come down. I don't know if they're hiring, but at least they are taking apps.

        Richmond, VA and surrounding. FWIW

      •  Large pre-emptive layoffs (0+ / 0-)

        What I've seen over the past year is a number of companies who have laid off a large number of employees with the expectation that things were going to be very very bad until the end of 2010.  One of the differences between now and other recessions is that unions are not part of the equation, and a company's loyalty to its workforce is nil.  When is doubt, ship 'em out.

        It seems to me that this change of attitude by employers, coupled with the aggressive recapitalization of the banks (so that credit can continue to flow) is going to make this a very sharp but short downturn.

        Don't be a DON'T-DO... Be a DO-DO!

        by godwhataklutz on Fri May 08, 2009 at 09:12:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Point 2 is dead on! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Johnson, Kimball Cross, chrome327

      Politics is like driving - Press D to go forward or R to go backward.

      by hedgerml on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:14:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  On top of that (7+ / 0-)

      A million people or more are about the run out of benefits.

      When they do, there goes all that spending in their local economies.  Here come the evictions and foreclosures.

      Double dip, baby, Double dip.

      Crush the Horror.

      by JesseCW on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:31:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do these numbers take seasonal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Johnson, ilex, JesseCW

    employment into consideration?  When we see weekly unemployment numbers, I always wonder whether it's valid to just consider that they've gone up or down.  This time of year is always a start up time for some of the outdoor jobs like farming, landscaping and construction, no?  Also, it's peak time for tourism in the southeast, and in another six weeks tourism for the states further north picks up.

    I really hope the employment situation has bottomed.  Without an improvement

    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." --Samuel Johnson

    by joanneleon on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:30:26 AM PDT

    •  (continued) (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pletzs, ilex, MKinTN, Tam in CA

      Without an improvement in jobs, nothing else will really get better.

      There are certain times when populism and a little nationalism/protectionism is called for, and this is one of them.  Whether or not the administration really believes in keeping jobs here at home, (and I've heard a mix coming from them over the months) the people do.  Now they've got to work to push the big corporations to act on it.  We have to reverse a decade of outsourcing and giving away jobs and technology and manufacturing.

      I still can't figure out who thought it was a good idea to give away good jobs, and then expected consumer spending to continue like nothing had changed.  Oh, that's right, they didn't care.  The only thing they were looking at was the next quarters profits and the number of zeroes on their bonus checks.

      "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." --Samuel Johnson

      by joanneleon on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:40:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Has it reached a permanantly low plateau? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Johnson, TJ, Dems 2008

    That's America, buddy! So wake up -- to your only logical choice: Me. George Tirebiter

    by irate on Fri May 08, 2009 at 05:31:04 AM PDT

  •  You really can't call a peak on one month of data (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, ilex

    losing over 600K jobs is still falling off a cliff. Let's not make it rosy or raise expectations. Unemployment is heading to double digits...the economy is still crashing. And the banks are not lending. What's to like?

  •  All you have to know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, ilex, Virginia mom

    is that Toyota posted it's first loss ever.  The error of the optimists, I think, is that they are using bubble recoveries to predict a bubble burst.

  •  Not sounding optimistic (0+ / 0-)

    but from a conversation that I heard, some very specialized industries are seeing a way out, unfortunately not involving autos or new manufacturing. There are some clever people out there that think they can make lemonaid in the current economy, stuff that doesn't involve Ponzi schemes.

    Son just graduated from a specialized college and has no job. I guess it could be considered as a high-tech trade degree. Bad timing for the industry, if he had done it last year, he might be laid off by now, who knows?

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:02:14 AM PDT

  •  Issue with comparing "absolute numbers" (0+ / 0-)

    In a couple of places you say

    the absolute number is at a nearly 30 year high.

    But is this a valid comparison? Population growth over that period would naturally raise those numbers anyway.

    Wouldn't percentage comparisons be more accurate?

  •  Bonddad, your diaries are always so informative, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ilex

    but could you after each graph give a quick couple of info sentences (for example: Y axis is number of persons unemployed in michigan, in thousands; X axis is increase in percentage of sales at fast food restaurants), for those of us unfamiliar with this type of information, to help us have a greater understanding of what the graphics are describing?

  •  This is only an inflection point on the way down (0+ / 0-)

    until net job losses/gains gets to ZERO we're not at the bottom.

    Now, it is important that we actually REACH an inflection point, but that just means that the rate-of-change is in the right direction.

    But at this rate, we've got another 6-12 months of job losses coming up, and the data is noisy, and it is not a smooth curve.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    -Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:46:33 AM PDT

  •  Bondad... (3+ / 0-)

    you can only make the Rec list if you make dire and catastrophic predictions.../snark

    But I will Rec your post anyway...

    Obama - Real Leadership for a Real Change

    by dvogel001 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:49:24 AM PDT

  •  My son has been unemployed since Nov in 07. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, ilex

    His wife got laid off two months ago.
    His problem? There are probably several...but age may now be a factor and his experience is a very narrow niche. Anyway, job agencies love to interview him but never call for placement. And they tend to do "Bait and Switch. They call him to come in because they have this great job for him, when he arrives, it is not the job they tell him but another, quite far away(hour drive)that involves "sales" and it is "commission" which he can't do.
    Oh well, I keep hoping things improve.

  •  Things bad in VA. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo

    The financial crash has cost many middle class jobs, tho some of those folks still getting severance and such. Add in Circuit City, ect. and the ripple effect and it's a mess. Daughter laid off in Feb still hasn't found full time work. She's a veteran, experience with office work but she's competing  for jobs with CPAs. That's the kind of job market our veterans will be enteing.

    Let tyrants fear.-Queen Elizabeth I

    by Virginia mom on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:58:30 AM PDT

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