The national seasonally adjusted number of jobless claims reported weekly.
Disproportionate Unemployment Filling the Line
Published Friday, June 26th, 2009
The news of unemployment may be all around us right now, but what is not really understood is the makeup of the unemployment percentage. The overall number is just that: a composite of different numbers, averaged together, and displayed as a percentage of the overall unemployed among the labor force. For example, “The Labor Force” is just a way of describing us all, blue collar and white collar. Yet, there are those who can withstand recession woes (who can save for a rainy day) and those who cannot (check to check living). What is missing from that single unemployment percentage number is that the recession does not hit everyone equally.
The pre-recession unemployment was at 5% of the overall labor force. Yet, now we are edging on 9.4% unemployment with 5.7 million jobs lost since the beginning of the recession, as May provided 345,000 new jobless claims. Making up a majority of those in the unemployment line are manufacturing and construction workers who tend to be less educated and/or recent immigrants. For minorities such as the black and Latino groups, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the rate of unemployment is edging on 20%, leading many to fall instantly into poverty and straining State budgets.
Americans Cutting Back as Resession Lingers
Published Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
According to the Commerce Department, retail sales have decreased 1.1% in March — forecasts ranging from a decline of 0.2% to a gain of 1.2% — which had followed a 0.3% gain in February. “While the March data isn’t enough to make us rethink expectations that the worst is over, it does serve as a reminder that the road out of this recession might be as painful as the recession itself,” said Guy Lebas, chief economist with Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia. Keeping inflation down, prices paid to US producers fell 1.2% after two months of gains. This excludes fuel and food; these were unchanged along with other core prices.
After sharp increases in retail sales, the purchase of durable goods (e.g., cars, computers, furniture) has, since 2007, started to contract to 2005 levels. And non-durable goods (e.g., food, clothing, energy) have sunk slightly on lower sales of gas and clothing. Inflation has hit Americans hard as food prices, though not changed from February to March of this year, have relatively soared, except milk, which is the only product to have decreased in 2008. Also fueling the drop in retail sales is the ever growing ranks of the unemployed, as the jobless rate hit 8.5% as of last week.
Only Health Care Survives the Rise in Job Cuts
Published Tuesday, March 10th, 2009
Layoff announcements from last month continued across the industrial spectrum, according to the US Department of Labor, including Macy’s, Time Warner Cable, Estee Lauder, Goodyear, and General Motors. Of the sectors, the service-sector fell the most at 375,000. This includes the businesses and professional services 180,000), financial sector (44,000), retail (40,000), leisure and hospitality (33,000). Temporary employment fell 80,000, and government shed 9,000. Of the goods-producing industries, jobs fell by 276,000. Manufacturing firms cut 168,000 jobs, and construction lost 104,000 jobs. The only bright spot that continues to add jobs is the health care sector, which rose 26,900.
During February, the US economy shed 651,000 jobs, which bring the cumulative job loss to over 4.4 million from December 2007 according to the U.S. Labor Department. Also in this report, December and January’s declines were revised to show much steeper declines. The unemployment rate jumped a 0.5 percentage point to 8.1%, the highest since December 1983. Including the part-time workers, the rate jumps to 14.8% last month, which is 6 percentage points higher than last year. A bit of good news, the average hourly earnings increased $0.03, or 0.2%, to $18.47.
Economic Slump Continues
Published Thursday, December 4th, 2008
A declaration of recession was made by a committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, nonprofit group of economists based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke stated in the wake of the declaration that the economy “will probably remain weak for a time.”
Reasons for the declaration are numerous: The loss of 1.2 million jobs so far this year was the biggest factor in determining the starting point of the U.S. economic slump. Followed closely by Payroll Employment which fell 240,000 jobs in October and 325,000 in November, the most since the last recession and the eleventh consecutive decline, according to Labor Department report. The October report of jobless claims set the unemployment rate at 6.5 percent, the highest level in 14 years, according to Labor Department statistics.
Contributing to the worry, American manufacturing contracted in November at the steepest rate in 26 years, leading Europe and Asia into an intiernational industrial slump. Also, a report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed construction spending fell 1.2 percent in October as home prices dropped dramatically.
Extending Unemployment Insurance
Published Friday, November 21st, 2008
Today President Bush signed into law a seven week extension of unemployment benefits for those who have exhausted their current jobless benefits. In addition, those who live in states with the highest unemployment rates will be allowed an additional 20 week of benefits. The measure is estimated to cost about $5.7 billion. This comes in the wake of the government report of the jobless claims for benefits which reached its highest level in 16 years amounting to 4 million people receiving unemployment benefits. Benefit checks average about $300 a week nationwide. Congress has enacted federally funded extensions seven times in the past 50 years during economic slumps — in 1958, 1961, 1972, 1975, 1982, 1991 and 2002.
There has been anomalies or spikes in the number of initial claims for benefits over the years with many of the great spikes in claims happening around December-February as companies lay-off employees at the year end. But when the number start to rise sharply over a longer period of time like the recent rise to 542,000 as of November 15, 2008, that’s when the government starts to be concerned over jobless claims. Rises in jobless claims has occured several times in the last century as in 2000-2001, 1988-1991, 1981-1982, 1973-1975, 1969-1970, 1960-1961and 1957-1958 all of which lead to government action.
Department of Labor: Unemployed - http://www.dol.gov/dol/audience/aud-unemployed.htm
The Department of Labor fosters and promotes the welfare of the job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements.
U.S. Job Corps - http://jobcorps.dol.gov/about.htm
Job Corps is a no-cost education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 get a better job, make more money, and take control of their lives.