Free Markets, Free People

Initial Unemployment Claims

This graph puts initial unemployment claims over the past five months in perspective. Click to enlarge.

Trend of initial unemployment claims

Trend of initial unemployment claims


12 Responses to Initial Unemployment Claims

    Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
    Series Id:           LNS14000000
    Seasonally Adjusted
    Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
    Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
    Type of data:        Percent or rate
    Age:                 16 years and over
    Apr    May    Jun        Jul       Aug       Sep        Oct        Nov       Dec
    2009 8.9 9.4 9.5 9.4 9.7 9.8 10.1      10.0 10.0
    2010                     Jan        Feb       Mar

    9.7       9.7        9.7
    Well, being pretty ignorant about this subject, but wanting to figure out what this post was trying to say (was I the only one unclear on that point?) I Googled “unemployment chart” and the above is a digest of what I got.  Perhaps the “Seasonally Adjusted” accounts for the difference from the numbers in the posted chart?
    Anyway, if you asked me to say something intelligent about either chart……oh, wait, isn’t that what commenters are supposed to do?
    I do remember the Administration saying that unemployment would not rise above 8% if the Stimulus bill was passed.  I think that I am smart enough to see that whoever said that doesn’t know what they are talking about.  Or, they are liars who will say what is necessary to get a bill they want passed, passed.
    I do see the steadily upward trend shown by the hyphenated (statistical mean?) line on the posted chart.  Is that it?
    As opposed to the optimistic statements being made by President Obama.  Is that it?
    I mean, at this point, a headline of “President Lacks Credibility on Economic Issues” is “Dog bites man”, isn’t it?

    • Hmmmm.  Charts don’t do well in comments.

    • The conclusion is that for 6 months we’ve been told its getting better and it isn’t.  I think there’s no justification for simple optimism generating the claims anymore.  The claims are either deep nearly psychotic denial or lies.

    • Seasonal adjusting is a “black art.”
      This past week, the Labor Department was complaining that the Easter Bunny had screwed up the seasonal adjustment.

  • This just goes to show how much the MSM is in the tank for Obama (are you listening ERB?)  They have been reporting a rise in employment, and a fall in unemployment for several weeks now, but the only thing certain from the figures is that not much has happened.
    I will wager that the real numbers are even worse and are being masked by the inclusion of temporary census workers.

  • Though this reverse trend was predictable, it’s regretable.

    When the “stimulus” bill was passed, I said that no one knew what it would accomplish. Would it actually stimulate by throwing some velocity into the economy? Or would it swirld down into economic eddies with no effect at all? Or would it constitute a wet blanket on the economy, by tying up hundreds of billions of dollars in a load of crap?

    It was a political payoff, that much is clear, and the Democrats probably half-believed that it would incidentally stimulate or that recovery would be happening anyway and they could claim it saved the day.

    But it actually appears to have had the result behind door three:  Wet blanket on the recovery, tying cash to economic crap and being just one of several monkey wrenches thrown into the gear box of recovery, along with all the uncertainty generated by the regime.

    Perhaps the kindest thing that can be said about the “stimulus” is that at least there were never any good intentions behind it. And it lays there cold on the slab with few pretensions otherwise. And most Americans can pretty much tell.

  • An explanation of the chart should have been included. Having seen this posted elsewhere: the author’s point is that the weekly INITIAL unemployment claims are “oscillating” around the mean of 460K. Which I think is a fair reading of the chart and does support his contention. I’m not sure if there is a more substantive point to be made than just that simple observation. The government (and the politicians who view this as a sort of “report card” on their performance) does all sorts of statistical modification to unemployment data and collects several other series of data on unemployment. Unfortunately, the system is not as simple as counting the number of people who  have jobs and then subtracting that number from total population. And I’m sure that their approaches are statistically valid, for the most part. As my favorite Secretary of Defense once said, “You don’t go into a recession with the unemployment reporting statistics you’d like. You use the ones you have.”
    The most important number to watch is how many people got jobs in the previous month/quarter. And even that number is the product of two different surveys (business v. household). Yes, those measures have some unreliability built into them by virtue of how they are collected and smoothed. Subjectively, you will know the recovery is happening when you see the results with your own eyes. Is your company hiring? Are your neighbors getting jobs? Are the restaurants full on the weekdays? Are people buying cars and televisions? Has the value of homes in your neighborhood stabilized? Are foreclosures tapering off? Ultimately, it’s about how we feel about the future and we base our view on how we see things around us. Consumer spending is 70% of our GDP. When consumers spend, the economy will start to recover.
    Which is why, considering the outsized debt loads carried by many consumers, I don’t expect an effective recovery for at least another 18 months. That will give people time to de-leverage.
    Is it Obama’s fault? No. But then the captain of the ship is responsible for everything that happens and does not happen. It’s one of the many perks of the office. Prior to FDR, the national government did not hold itself out as the “solution” to all our problems. You ride the train, you gotta pay the fare.

    • The importance of initial unemployment claims is that it is a good look at what’s going on in business right now, and more of a predictive stat.  The unemployment figure tends to be a lagging indicator, since overall employment doesn’t start to improve until after the economy has started to recover.
      Generally, as the economy worsens, companies will lay off employees until their bottom lines stabilize.  Then as the cash hemorrhage stops, companies continue with their pared-down staff until enough business comes in to necessitate in hiring to handle the expanding business.  The increasing initial claims tells us that companies are continuing to shed workers, which means their bottom lines have not yet stabilized, and the recession may not have bottomed out after all.
      The fact that initial claims has a small but increasing trend over the past 6 months is cause for deep concern.

  • The biggest “take-away” from the chart is that Obama should learn to keep his mouth shut.

  • This chart, coupled with the varying media coverage of the slight bumps, tells us all we need to know about the analytical power of the press and their steady leftward drift.

    Every slight upward tick is “evidence the economy is improving” and every downward tick is “unexpected”. In other words, they desperately, desperately want to find evidence to make Obamaco look good, and are honestly surprised every single time the evidence goes the other way.

    Every time they see a downward tick, they’re like Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates, totally losing memory of the last time they saw exactly the same thing.