The Department of Labor has put out its latest news on weekly unemployment numbers and the news has a little good, and enough bad to keep things pretty much the same.
The sort-of good news is that the current rate of weekly layoff numbers is down; the bad news is that the number of individuals on unemployment insurance claims has increased.
The DOL puts unemployment numbers in two perspectives: seasonally adjusted numbers and unadjusted data numbers.
Here are the seasonally adjusted numbers (the good):
“In the week ending May 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 623,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 636,000. The 4-week moving average was 626,750, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 629,750.“
And, the bad (also seasonally adjusted numbers):
“The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 16 was 6,788,000, an increase of 110,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 6,678,000. The 4-week moving average was 6,608,250, an increase of 123,750 from the preceding week’s revised average of 6,484,500.“
Joseph Lazzaro, a writer for AOL’s DailyFinance blog, gives some perspective:
“To put that last figure [continuing claims at 6.79 million] in some more perspective, the U.S. economy would have to add about 200,000 jobs per month — a roughly net 100,000-job-gain over the monthly gain needed to keep unemployment from rising — for the next five years to replace the 5.7 million jobs lost during the recession.“
Yet, some analysts are claiming that the recession has hit its peak.
Here’s another perspective on unemployment numbers from Seeking Alpha blogger Patrick Watson in his post “Unemployment: The Number to Watch,” where he gives a good explanation of the difference between those who apply for unemployment benefits and those who are receiving them. Wilson wrote:
“Keep in mind that applying for benefits doesn’t mean you will receive benefits. Not everyone in every situation is eligible for unemployment insurance, and the rules can vary between states. Nor does this number tell us anything about how long these people have been unemployed or how long it will take them to find a new job. It’s just a one-time snapshot of what happened in one week.Continuing claims is the number of people who were actually receiving benefits during that week. This number stands at 6,788,000 as of May 16. By next week some of those people will find jobs and leave this list, newly unemployed people will be added to the list, and people who remain jobless will stay on the list. The net result, unfortunately, is that continuing claims have been climbing quickly …Despite what you may hear, the economy cannot recover until the number of unemployed people begins to fall. And for that number to fall, it must first stop rising. There is absolutely no evidence this is happening.“
While I’d like to paint the best picture possible, I can’t, in good conscience, ignore a solid interpretation of the larger picture with jobs and the economy.