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job benefits claims 3-21-13
Applications for new unemployment benefits are remaining fairly steady in a range of 30,000-40,000 less than they were a year ago. But, in the past two years, lower initial claims in the first two or three months of the year have been followed by higher claims in later months. The next few weeks will show whether that pattern has been broken.

For the week ending March 16, the Department of Labor reported Thursday, seasonally adjusted initial claims were 336,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 334,000, first reported as 332,000. For the comparable week of 2012, the figure was 364,000. The four-week moving average, which analysts prefer because it flattens volatility in the weekly numbers, was 339,750, a decrease of 7,500 from the previous week's revised average of 347,250.

In all programs, both state and federally funded "emergency" extensions, the total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending March 2 was 5,369,007, a decrease of 250,853 from the previous week. For the comparable week of 2012,  7,284,741 persons claimed benefits in all programs. The decrease is partly due to people having obtained jobs and no longer needing benefits and others having exhausted their benefits.

In the past quarter-century, the best 19-month period for weekly first-time unemployment claims occurred at the end of the Clinton administration. From April 1999 through October 2000, claims were, with rare exceptions, in the 260,000-310,000 range. That was, correspondingly, a time of significant job growth.

First-time claims for benefits are an indicator of how the jobs report the Bureau of Labor Statistics issues the first week of each month will look. Lower numbers of claims typically indicates higher numbers of new jobs over time. But these rarely provide a perfect match.

The most recent monthly BLS jobs report showed 12 million Americans are officially unemployed, 6.8 million are not in the labor force but say they want a job, and eight million are working part time because they can't get full-time work. That totals 26.8 million unemployed and underemployed Americans.

Heidi Shierholz at the Economic Policy Institute notes:

We have a jobs deficit of 8.9 million jobs (the 3 million we are still down from when the recession started, plus the 5.9 million we should have added over this period to keep up with growth in the potential labor force). Even at February’s growth rate, we wouldn’t get back to the prerecession unemployment rate until mid-2017. The jobs deficit is so large that to return to the prerecession unemployment rate by February 2016, another three years from now, we would have to add 320,000 jobs every single month between now and then.
For every job opening, there are 3.3 Americans actively seeking work.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 07:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 07:28:41 AM PDT

  •  Good news. As the sequester kicks in next month, (7+ / 0-)

    it may slow economic activity, but likely will not stop it (put into recession).  I think we'll still have an upward projection, just not as much as it could have been.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 07:34:24 AM PDT

    •  For the past three years, the jobs reports... (8+ / 0-)

      ...have been good the first two-three months and then, for a variety of reasons, we've slumped. It would sure be good to see that pattern beaten.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 07:37:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, springs have been bad. In 2010, it was (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LinSea, Klusterpuck

        Greece followed the the BP spill.  In 2011, the Republcian war on America.  Not sure what 2012 was.  EU stuff?  Hard to tell how these macro events affect UE, but it always seemed the recovery was just starting to take off, and boom, flattening.

        Withdrawing 80B from the demand side will slow down growth.  We'll see how much.  

        But the lat month has the lowest numbers of new unemployeed in a long time.  

        Like you said. it would be good to see that pattern broken.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:01:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The boost from temp hiring for Census in... (5+ / 0-)

          ...in 2010, falled by the expected layoffs plus Greece plus the Gulf spill.

          The tsunami and Fukushima disaster in 2011.

          Europe's and China's softening in 2012.

          This year, however, we have something happening that hasn't happened the past three years, a growing expansion in housing. It's uneven regionally, it's still way way below what it was in the mid-2000s (but that was a bubble), and part of what is driving up prices right now (which realtors are cheering) is the fact investors bought so many foreclosed houses that they are not putting on the market.

          Still, more people are getting above water, fewer mortgages are delinquent and consumer optimism is higher than it's been, although THAT is volatile and fragile.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:20:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Correx: followed by, not "falled by" n/t (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, Klusterpuck

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:20:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Thank for the info. Forgot about Fuckahima. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Klusterpuck

            Good point about housing.  That is different.  We also have the Fed's policies of long term low interest rates.  The Fed is trying to defeat the Republican war on the Ameircan economy.

            Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

            by TomP on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:25:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The other thing that is different (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, virginislandsguy, cynndara

            is the layoffs in local and state government have stopped.  In Florida the plan is to significantly increase road construction.

            But the real change here is in real estate - which looks like it is recovering.

            Usually housing leads out of a recession - which is one reason why this recovery has sucked so much.

            It would be interesting to see numbers on how different the recovery would have looked if we had normal job growth in housing.

            A side note: congrats to Bondadd - who Krugman linked to and quoted at some length.

            How many of us have been quoted by a Nobel Prize winner?

            The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

            by fladem on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:56:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Layoffs at state and local level are far fewer... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TomP

              ...but they have not stopped. There were 10,000 of them in February, the fifth straight month of continued state and local layers, with 53,000 of them since September 2012.

              Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

              by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:19:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Are you sure? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Klusterpuck

      GDP growth in the 4th Quarter was 0.1% (and could still be revised to negative).
         That's stall speed.

       Plus, several of our largest trading partners are in recession (Europe and Japan).

        It wouldn't take much to push us over the edge.

      ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

      by gjohnsit on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:02:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I am reasonably sure. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        Unemployment reduced to 7.7 last month with 200,000 plus new jobs.  

        It is good news.  And I do not expect a recession.

        Of course, like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expect s a recession.  :-)

        Look at the graph above re new unemployment.  It's been very good for several months.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:08:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unemployment is a trailing indicator (0+ / 0-)

          You can't use it to predict the future.

          ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

          by gjohnsit on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:10:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Talk to me in six months. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, virginislandsguy, TexasTom

            If we are in a recession, I'll say you're right.   I don't expect a recession.  $80B is a lot, but not that much in terms of lost demand.   All GDP predictions hover around 2 or 3%.  I'm not an economist, but I read people like Krugman and Stiglitz and Dean Baker at times, and I have not seen predictions of a recession.

            The future must be lived to know.  We'll see.

            Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

            by TomP on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:23:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Actually GDP was revised to 0.1% from negative in (0+ / 0-)

        previous estimates. So, I don't know if it would be typical for it to be revised again.

        I don't necessarily see another recession right away; just a long, slow, very intentional Republican war on the economy. Only breaking their majority in the House will stop this.

        Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

        by tekno2600 on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:32:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not sure if that is "good news" (0+ / 0-)

      since it will reinforce the GOP's position that the economy responds positively to lessened government spending and will only embolden them to do for more.

      •  Nothing we can do about that. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dfarrah, virginislandsguy, TexasTom

        If the UE rated goes up, we did not cut enough.
        If the E rate goes down, see, we were right,  now cut more.  

        If the sun rises, destroy the New Deal and Medicare.
        If the sun sets, destroy the New Deal and Medicare.

        The conclusion always results from any premise.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by TomP on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:03:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's doubtful the sequester... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Robert

        ...per se is showing up in the stats yet. Fear of the sequester, perhaps, but the results of that are tough to measure.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:31:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My point, if it wasn't clear, was that (0+ / 0-)

          it would be a very slow train-wreck type disaster that might only cut out of an otherwise vigorous recovery.

          Thus, even with it, the economy would grow faster than in recent times (e.g., 2% a year) rather than robustly (say, 3.5 to 4%).

          And the suffering by those disproportionately affected by the sequester would ultimately be set in stone.

          •  Got it. The problem, as gjohnsit notes... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy, carver

            ...is that we've not seen robust growth in the GDP at 4% or above since the "recovery" began except at the end of 2009 and the end of 2011. Expecting robust growth now is to go against the historical record. It is, of course, possible. One thing the Great Recession taught us is that the historical record can be way off the mark in predicting where we go now. Plus, we've had many post-World War II records set in the past five years: numbers of people laid off, numbers of people unemployed in the long term, numbers of people on food stamps...It's a long list.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:47:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My memory is of the Clinton years with (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              carver, TexasTom

              predictions that the "business cycle" had been rendered obsolete (in favor of endless prosperity).

              Turned out that that wasn't the case.

              So I'm not anymore convinced that the business cycle has now been revoked in the opposite direction.

              Bottom line is that I believe that an economic recovery is inevitable - regardless of government policy - which IMHO will be more important at regulating the rate of the recovery rather than allowing it to occur or not occur.

              The bigger problem is that with the sequester in place, the recovery will happen in such a way that will only exacerbate economic equalities that have taken hold over the past generation or two.    But, raw numbers like the gdp and number (note, not quality!) of jobs will look OK

              •  You may be right. On the other hand... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Roadbed Guy, TexasTom

                ...the longest period between the official end of one recession and the beginning of the next is just under nine years. The shortest period is six years. We are now at three years and nine months for the Great Recession.

                Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:56:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Layoffs are no longer a problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, Mr Robert

    Thank Gawd of that.

      However, job opening (or should I say, lack of) ARE still a problem.

      Plus, the lack of jobs that pay middle class wages are an even bigger problem.

      This is 2013. We are more than five years into this financial crisis, and we are still talking about "victories" that you should only be looking for at the start of a recovery.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:00:43 AM PDT

    •  I don't know how anyone can say that (0+ / 0-)

      In my area, highly military dependent, we have been warned that we may have thousands of layoffs due to the sequester.

      I have a close friend who has been told she will be working 4 days a week for the foreseeable future which translates into a 20% pay CUT.

      The sequester is just starting.

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:44:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. The wage situation is, of course... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dfarrah, TexasTom

      ...a chronic problem predating the Great Recession and exacerbated by it.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 09:33:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We are still seeing a lot of layoffs (0+ / 0-)

      It's just that they're somewhat offset by new openings. Companies eager to juice their quarterly numbers are still announcing consolidations, down-sizing, office-closings, plant-closings, etc. And then there are the public employee jobs especially at state and local levels -- teachers, police, firefighters, any agency that depends on federal funding.

  •  Not necessarily good news (0+ / 0-)

    I suspect that what's actually happening is that a lot of laid off workers are finding that they haven't actually been employed long enough to qualify.

    More and more people are in short term jobs and as a result they don't qualify for unemployment.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:14:44 PM PDT

  •  Unfortunately, the sequester will soon be felt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stagemom

    what a stupid thing to do

  •  I like that job deficit construct. (0+ / 0-)

    It avoids some of the problems inherent in more dynamic measures.

    First time claims, for example, not only vary widely, but are easily misinterpreted.

    For example:

    Low first-time claims are consistent with both a good and a bad economy.  In a good economy, it may represent the fact that everybody who wants a job can find one.   In a bad economy,  it may represent that there are fewer people in the labor force to lose jobs, as well as the possibility that employers have already laid off everybody they thought they could get along without.

    And, of course, we know all about people falling out of the numbers as they grow discouraged, etc.

    The job deficit incorporates the idea of state -- ie, not just where we're going, but where we are.  If we're in a good place, it doesn't matter if we're moving much.  If not -- well, that's where long-term unemployment comes from.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 08:37:18 PM PDT

  •  Don't worry, GOP will mess this up (0+ / 0-)

    That is why they luv the sequester.

    At least 80 dns had enough sense to vote for canceling this farce yesterday.  But not enough,  not even close to what we need.  Do over 100 Dems really believe we need some more cuts - even if its balanced on the backs of those who can not afford it?

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 04:09:34 AM PDT

  •  One caveat? (0+ / 0-)

    One thing I'm wondering -- there is increasing evidence that many of the jobs people are forced to take are either contract work (paid on 1099 not W-2), or are working under the table / off the books for cash. Those workers are not eligible for unemployment benefits, so if they get laid off or terminated, they're out of luck. And they do not show up in the statistics either when hired or when terminated.

    My sense from what I've read -- and what I overhear on the bus in the morning -- is that an increasing share of the economy is in this "shadow" economy, which is not captured in the measurements the government is using. The ACA is, unfortunately, likely to push that percentage even higher, as employers try to minimize or eliminate their obligations under the law, and individuals try to minimize official income to qualify for subsidies or Medicaid.

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