Unemployment claims rise to a massive 542,000

Unemployment claims rose to a monster reading of 542,000 last week.  This is easily the highest figure in this business cycle and represents the largest number in 16 years. As with last week, there was absolutely nothing to like about this weekly report – continuing claims breached 4 million and year-over-year comparisons are getting worse.  After a few weeks in a holding pattern wondering where we would break, the the employment market has broken toward the downside in a fairly large way these past wo weeks.  One should expect 7.0% unemployment at a minimum by January.

I will run through the numbers rather quickly here.  The claims numbers for the past six weeks were 463,000, 479,000, 485,000, 484,000, 515,000, and 516,000.  This demonstrates the large deterioration as the 4-week average has gone from about 395k to over 500k since July.  The year-over-year comparisons have now risen to almost175,000.

Continuing claims are now 4,012,000, the highest since 1982. There are 1,278,000 more people on the unemployment roles than there were at this time last year.

All in all, this is not what retailers want to hear as we head into the Holiday Season.  With claims high and rising and potential bankruptcy of GM in the wings, retail sales will be very poor this quarter in America.

Jobless Claims for 20 Nov 2008
Jobless Claims for 20 Nov 2008

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Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report – DOLETA

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