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first time jobless claims for 3-23-13
In what could be the first signs of an impact from the budget sequestration, the Department of Labor reported Thursday that for the week ending March 23, seasonally adjusted initial claims for jobless benefits rose to 357,000, up 16,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 341,000. For the comparable week of 2012, new claims were 363,000. The four-week running average preferred by most experts because it flattens volatility in the weekly claims, rose to 343,000 from the previous week's revised average of 340,750.

The numbers included the annual revision.

In all programs, state and federal "emergency" extensions, the total number of people claiming benefits for the week ending March 9 was 5,455,757. That was up 86,750 from the previous week. For the comparable week of 2012, there were 7,158,470 persons claiming benefits. That drop came about because people got full-time or part-time jobs or exhausted their benefits. Continue reading about the nation's gross domestic product and other labor market news below the fold.

Meanwhile, in what would be disturbing news any other time, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced an improvement in its third and final estimate for the fourth quarter of 2012 that inflation-adjusted growth in the nation's gross domestic product was 0.4 percent. The initial report in January showed GDP growth to have contracted by 0.1 percent. The latest report means that for all of 2012, real GDP grew a paltry 1.7 percent despite predictions at the end of 2011 that it would grow 2.5-4 percent. In 2011, real GDP grew by 2.0 percent.

GDP third estimate for 4Q 2012
Although GDP does a reasonable job of measuring the value of goods and services produced over a specific time frame, it is, as I have often reiterated, a flawed gauge because it fails to measure crucial factors such as income inequality and the wrecking of the environment in the pursuit of economic growth. It makes no distinction between spending on buying new automobiles and spending on medical services and lawsuits when those automobiles collide. It does not, for instance. measure the value of someone who stays home to raise children, even when they are home-schooled.

As Robert Kennedy said 45 years ago this month:

'Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

'Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.'

A recent report by Demos noted that, because GDP measures average income, it can greatly distort the impact among households. Although inflation-adjusted GDP has doubled in the past three decades, median household income has risen a mere 16 percent, reflecting how much better off the affluent in America have become in comparison with those people below the upper tier.

With all those flaws, the report of slightly better growth in GDP than the initial calculations showed nonetheless falls into line with a broad range of improvements in the economy, housing in particular. Eight of 10 of the indexes that make of the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators are up.

Still lagging, however, 64 months since the Great Recession began, is the labor market, where there is one job for every 3.4 people in search of one, the official unemployment rate is 7.7 percent and, when part-timers who want full-time work but can't find it and people who have left the workforce but say they still want a job are tallied, the unemployment and underemployment numbers clock in at 26.8 million Americans.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:08 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Economics, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank You, MB (16+ / 0-)

    It amazes me that politicians are satisfied with the state of things -- treading water against a strong current -- and continue to be obsessed with deficits instead of investments and growth.

    Where is the dream?

    We should be thinking about what we want America to be like in a generation and our Congress should be making policy that will make it so.

    Instead, they are obsessed with shrinking America.

    And, it often seems, drowning it in the bath.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:12:55 AM PDT

    •  Not So Amazing When You Realize What They Need (4+ / 0-)

      to get and keep the job.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:51:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly...the deficit terrorists and the Dems who (0+ / 0-)

      placate them are actively hurting 10's of millions of working Americans.
      GDP = (G)overnment spending + (C)onsumer spending +
      (I)nvestment spending + Net Exports
      How is cutting (G)ovt spending supposed to increase GDP?
      How is raising taxes (which decreases (C)onsumer spending) supposed to increase GDP?
      People are so confused about how our Fiat (re:sovereign) monetary system works.
      Where do US dollars come from?.......The US GOVERNMENT.
      They are called Federal Reserve Notes for a reason....they come from the FEDERAL RESERVE (which of course was created and is controlled by congress).
      The whole idea of the ISSUER of the US dollar needing to borrow money from citizens or China is simply laughable.  The Chinese are no closer to being able to create US dollars than we are to making Chinese Yuan.  US treasuries are nothing more than savings bonds held by the public (and plenty are held by the Fed, showing just how fictional the so-called US debt is).  What would happen if we tried to "pay down the debt"?  Well, the Fed would transfer China's US dollars via its money computer from Chinese owned interest bearing US savingstreasury bonds into cash held in China's non interest bearing Reserve=checking accounts.  Why would China not want to make interest on its US dollar holdings?  They wouldn't so they would just buy more USTs.  This is why we can't pay down the so-called debt.....its not really debt, its the accumulated US dollar savings of the the non-US govt world.  You can either have USTs or cash.....that money can't be destroyed

      MMT =Reality

      "The Earth is my country and Science my religion" Christiaan Huygens

      by Auburn Parks on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:40:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks so much for the RFK quote (5+ / 0-)

    I'd never heard/read that before. Both profound and tragically quaint that a national politician would say such a thing...and mean it.

    FDR and the Kennedys seem to support the notion of a special value brought to gov't by elite, an actual noble elite (as measured by money, education, and power), who have the bearing of the aristocracy and the power that comes with generations of such alliances and connections, but with a virtuous viewpoint and vision for truly public service.  

  •  Your last paragraph is so crucial (6+ / 0-)

    and not just because I happen to be one of those 27 million. The economy is recovering and we should be celebrating that good news. You're spot on when you write that we also need to stress the impact of income and wealth inequality and the struggling labor market. Thank you for this informative report.

    If we are going to live at the speed of code, we need to remember the stillness of eternity. -- dharmasyd

    by Darryl House on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:35:40 AM PDT

  •  Wow, RFK's statement is quite possibly... (7+ / 0-)

    the most profound thing I've ever read. I was just ten years old when he gave that speech.

    Thanks for that, MB.

    "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

    by markthshark on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 09:36:12 AM PDT

  •  Time to get away from the job board and network (0+ / 0-)

    I can't stress how many people I run into seem to not be able to get a job and that has to do with applying on job boards and job fairs.

    I'm at networking events and career support groups all the time, namely to build the marketing community in the Bay Area.  Let me put it this way:  The sequestration isn't going to harm the San Francisco economy that much.

    However, the sequestration proves one thing:  We need to fight hard, REAL HARD, to defeat as many GOP for re-election in 2014 as humanly possibly.  And this means target ALL House GOP races, no matter how conservative the districts are.

  •  I don't know if it is the sequester, (4+ / 0-)

    but even 357,000 is not terrible in terms of the slow recovery we have had.  If we can ever get under 300,000, we will make up some of those jobs losses much more quickly.

    The human victims of the Recession will never be able to make up for their lsoses.   That the defict became the obsession, and President Obama bears some  responsiblility for this by his actions in 2010 and 2011, is just wrong.   It was mostly caused by Republicans and the horrendous 2010 elections, but I see three big mistakes by this President: (1) too small of a stimulus (realizing that what was done made a big difference for the better); (2) the pivot to deficts and desire for a Grand Bargain in 2010 and 2011; and the failure in 2009 when there was a real teachable moment in the depths of the Depression to show what caused it: free market fundamentalism, greed, and politicians who enabled the great class stratification.  

    I think the President and Dems have done a lot of good overall, but I sometimes wistfully dream of what could have been.  I do not blame President Obama for the state of unemployment; that would let Republicans off the hook.  At least he now seems to realize that compromise with Rs is impossible.   Unfortunately, there are red states and blue states.  There is no post partisan.  

    That all said, I'm glad Barack Obama is president.  he is a historic figure and his presidency is changing America for the better. i

    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 28, 2013 at 09:51:14 AM PDT

    •   I do not blame President Obama for...unemployment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MikePhoenix, Glenn45

      Well I do.
      The greatest mistake this WH made was not going immediately after the Bush Crime Family. Had they gone after the BCF-- with a Democratic House majority-- the Rethugs would have been knocked out of power for ten to fifteen years. The entangled circles of corruption surrounding the Rethug leadership would have resulted in numerous indictments and imprisonments; completely discrediting the Rethug brand, and more importantly, fatally wounding Reaganism.
      This country cannot advance economically until the Rethug Party is completely crippled. And, this WH failed to deliver a crippling blow to the Rethugs when they had the opportunity. "Fixing" the economy had to be secondary to finishing of the Rethug Party and killing Reaganism. It is impossible to "fix" the economy for any group other than the super-rich as long as Rethugs have any power or Reaganism isn't rejected wholesale. Working people, middle class people, aren't part of a Rethug Reaganomics. Employment is irrelevant. Only stock prices matter.

      •  While I, too, wanted some indictments... (5+ / 0-)

        ...asserting that the Republicans would have been knocked out of power and Reaganism fatally wounded by prosecutions is an overly bold claim. We don't know what would have happened. They may have easily beaten those prosecutions, the populace may have rejected this approach entirely and send not just the Democratic majority packing in 2010 but Obama in 2012. I've heard many people in my lifetime say the Republican Party is finished for a generation or two (Nixon debacle) or that the Republican Party was the permanent new majority (after Bush I won in 1988) despite Iran-contra. So I take such speculation with an entire salt shaker in hand.

        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 28, 2013 at 01:23:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Safe from recession for now (5+ / 0-)

    But with Europe still in the process of imploding, and Japan in recession, and now we've imported austerity here, the danger is greater than ever.

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

    by gjohnsit on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 10:28:27 AM PDT

  •  26.8 million just seems too low (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, prishannah, Brooke In Seattle

    We should have a jobs program polling every individual citizen and get an exact count.

    For Christ's sake, let's help more of our frightened people get through this thing, whatever it is - Kurt Vonnegut on our "faithless custodians of capital"

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 10:54:34 AM PDT

    •  Or ask NSA, or Homeland Security, or any of (3+ / 0-)

      the other agencies recording everything said electronically. Should be easy to get a precise count, if anyone wanted to, of who says they need work or more work than they have.

      If Republicans said every 3rd person named "Smith" should hang, we'd bargain them to every 7th. Then we'll see apologia written praising this most pragmatic compromise. There's our losing formula.

      by Jim P on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 11:40:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes we need a new gauge, like a race car.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P

    ..or an airplane is equiped with.
    An idiot gauge (a mere light - engine oil or temperature warning light when things are about to blow up) just isn't good enough. It's an incomplete diagnosis - and gives very little warning & warns you too late to really do anything about it iow's.

    Since the GDP regularly includes measuring all the negatives done to environment - redwood trees clear cut or the cost of war machinery - as GDP growth, why not include the negatives and the positives to actual persons to be figured in. Or if that complicates the calculations too much, at least as an aside measurement to balance out the picture

    We could start with including concerns Jarod Berstein outlines

    Jarod Berstein @ Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls it the YOYO:

    The trickle-down, deregulatory agenda -- what I have called YOYO, or "you're on your own" economics -- presumes that the growth chain starts at the top of the wealth scale and "trickles down" to those at the middle and the bottom of that scale. Problem is, that hasn't worked.
    Jarod proposes a wage-led demand growth:
    Here's a better model. In the midst of the 1990s boom, which lifted the earnings and incomes of middle and low-wage workers much more so than the 1980s or 2000s cycles, Larry Mishel and I started talking about "wage-led demand growth." We meant that a much better way to generate robust, lasting, and broadly shared growth is through an economically strengthened middle class.
    And from economist Alan Krueger:
    Inequality and longer term growth. Krueger also points to recent research showing that "in a society where income inequality is greater, political decisions are likely to result in policies that lead to less growth." Nobelist Mancur Olsen also hypothesized about this relationship decades ago.
    [As consumption is 70% of GDP, and each point of GDP above trend reduces unemployment by half a point, this calculation is .7*.5*5%, or 1.75%. ]
    Thx MB for the Labor News edtion

    P.S. still though it is good to see the general trend is in the positive, just wish the remedies being used were from the jobs first focus and turn off the deficit non-sense that does nothing and is or always been just a lever to gut/or worse social programs - that has been proven at least to me anyway

  •  72% say "Federal Jobs Stimulus, Deficit be Damned" (5+ / 0-)

    I can't figure why any one in our Party is giving a moment's credence to the Republican lie that deficit/debt is our biggest problem; that cutting back the safety-net can possibly do any thing but damage the Economy.

    Win 2014 on "Elect Us. Get Massive Job Stimulus. Cut the debt. Save the safety-net." There's no surer, or saner, way to Electoral Victory and Sound Economy. None.

    If Republicans said every 3rd person named "Smith" should hang, we'd bargain them to every 7th. Then we'll see apologia written praising this most pragmatic compromise. There's our losing formula.

    by Jim P on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 11:44:31 AM PDT

  •  "Our gross national product...counts... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dburn, Ishmaelbychoice

    ...It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets...."

    It now counts the manufacture of drones and private prisons:

    Will Drone Stocks Fly Higher

    Last month, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, which makes it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes over American airspace.  The bill also requires the Federal Aviation Administration to create regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015.  With the new legislation, some analysts believe the commercial drone market in the United States could grow to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, leaving investors wondering how to capitalize on the expanding market.

    The FAA estimates that there could be 30,000 drones flying over America by 2020, potentially creating a boom for drone makers such as Aerovironment Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV).  The California based company is a leading manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems and aerial vehicles. Recently, Aerovironment announced it received a $4.1 million order from the United States Air Force for its Switchblade loitering munition systems and services.  The system provides beyond line of sight precision strike capability to dismounted troops.  Aerovironment will work with Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE:ATK) to produce and deliver the systems.
    Top Private Prison Operators Geo, Corrections Corp Of America Worry About Fewer Illegal Immigrants To Jail Because It's Good For Business

    Because thanks to Operation Streamline, a program begun under the Bush administration in 2005 that fast-tracked federal criminal charges against people who enter the country illegally, the prison population has ballooned — which means more profits for private prison companies. They would like to ensure a steady flow of illegal immigrants into their cells.

    For example, Nashville-based Corrections Corp of America (NYSE:CXW) – which has seen its stock price gain 171 percent since the start of 2006, leading to two stock splits – has doled out $881,898 in contributions since last year, including donations to immigration-policy hawks like Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), head of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Corrections Corp of America (CCA) also began paying dividends last year, which is often done when companies feel they’re on stable enough footing to share profits with their shareholders and encourage them to continue to invest in their businesses.

    CCA, the largest private prison operator in the U.S., stated in its 2011 annual report that changes to the way the U.S. treats illegal immigrants, “could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”

    The country’s second-biggest private prison operator, The Geo Group, Inc. (NYSE:GEO) of Boca Raton, Fla., echoed similar sentiments deep inside of its 2011 annual report by saying state and federal reform laws could “materially adversely impact us.

    (Private prisons are a twofer for an administration trying to put lipstick on a pig. They up the GDP while lowering the real unemployment rate.)

  •  Plus...5.9 million added to SSDI rolls since 2009 (0+ / 0-)

    They don't show up in any statistics, but there is a demonstrable relationship between unemployment rates/weak economies and SSDI enrollment rates.  In a better economy some percentage of those 5.9 million would have found a job and not opted for Disability.  The $64 question is...what percentage?  A third?  More?  Less?

    If anyone knows of a good study on that topic, let me know.

    _"Love is the rosebud of an hour; Friendship the everlasting flower."_ Brook Boothby

    by Keith930 on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:13:39 PM PDT

  •  You know what scares me about that chart (0+ / 0-)

    You don't have a milestone on when stimulus ends. Now it's generally accepted that it comes in the form of QE with the Fed buying 85 Billion a month in MBS of dubious quality strengthening banks balance sheets in the hopes I assume that they will sometime stop gambling with depositors money and  do something like make loans.

    But that's a tiny part of the pie. People don't want loans - in general- if they have a unreliable income stream to pay down the debt. They also don't want   loans even they are lucky enough to own stocks and are seeing their wealth rise as people who are looking for yield are pushed into risky assets.

    In the past , when housing was pushing up to a huge multiple of people's annual income and their stock portfolio looked good, caring a large amount of unsecured and secured debt may have caused a few sleepless nights but as long as the jobs were there for those with the skills to get them and the income stream was reliable, we had a debt stimulated GDP.

    Now there is still high debt but the amount of new debt that would have stimulated the economy is nowhere to be seen. So we have even more artificial stimulus that the Govt and the Fed is interjecting that we are seen in a rising stock market that's going up on very thin volume. It may be that people want to regain losses and won't sell mixed with a steady push by the Fed that is cuasing it to trickle up. But the hoped for "wealth Effect" that was defined by taking on more debt for consumption and using disposable income to service it, isn't there.  

    What has to scare the policy makers is the utter lack of organic growth. After all the engine that drove the GDP for the since 1980-2008 has been debt. Nothing is showing up to replace it no matter how hard the Fed tries.

    We also have let the stock markets rise and charts like this cover up the fact that most of the damage that blew this economy in 2008 is still there. It just isn't mentioned anymore. The Price of mentioning the notion that the Fed's Playbook is no longer relevant has been judged as having too high of a political price.

    There is much more to this than a snap shot of employment in time.

    The real question is what happens when the QE has stopped.

    “ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes

    by Dburn on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:20:38 PM PDT

  •  Can I haz a 'woo-hoo' please? (0+ / 0-)


  •  Repubs still trying to tank the economy with (0+ / 0-)

    austerity. They think they'll be able to blame Obama for it in the next election. But, they should ask Mitt Romney: "How did that work out for ya?"

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

    by tekno2600 on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 10:13:31 PM PDT

  •  Given the variability in first-time (0+ / 0-)

    unemployment requestes, 16,000 on the way up is no more depressing than 16,000 on the way down is exciting.

    Given all of the "Yeah,so what's?" I've cast at small nudges down, I'm not about to throw an "I told you so" at a small nudge on the way up.

    The GDP growth is the more important indicator, I think, it is a direct measure of economic activity and jobs are directly impacted by that activity.

    I'll be interested when the job creation and unemployment info comes out.

    Do we have any reliable measure of federal jobs lost?  My head breaks trying to comprehend the furlough vs layoff equation when it come to the federal government.

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

    by dinotrac on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:21:58 AM PDT

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