U.S. jobless claims foreshadow an ugly unemployment number

U.S. initial jobless claims soared to yet another 26-year high, registering 626,000 for the week ending January 31st.  The continuing claims number was equally dreadful, hitting an all-time high of 4.79 million.


If you recall, last week I mentioned that the seasonally-adjusted numbers were not conveying the full measure of weakness in the employment market.  This continues to be the case as the unadjusted numbers are a full 326,000 greater this year than last year, whereas the reported numbers have only risen by 243,000.  I expect these year-on-year comparisons to normalize going forward with the seasonally-adjusted numbers playing ‘catch-up.’  That means initial jobless claims are sure to rise further still.

One other tidbit from this week’s numbers: the employment numbers are worse now than during the 1980-1982 recessions using my favorite metric of year-on-year comparisons. Only 1973-1975 is worse. This is another telling indicator of the severity of the implosion in the U.S. jobs picture.


Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report – U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Economy: Jobless Claims Soar, Labor Productivity Rises – Bloomberg.com

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