JOBLESS CLAIMS UP – AT 8:40 A.M. ET: The spinners are already out, saying it isn't that bad, but jobless figures released minutes ago paint a picture of an economy that is sick. From Bloomberg:
Claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, pushed up for a second time by a labor dispute at Verizon Communications Inc.
Jobless claims climbed by 5,000 to 417,000 in the week ended Aug. 20, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a drop in claims to 405,000, according to the median forecast. At least 8,500 applications were filed by workers at Verizon last week, compared with 12,500 the prior week, a department spokesman said as the data was released to the press.
The report signals that excluding the communications dispute, companies are slowing the pace of firings, which may ease concern that consumers will cut back on spending. At the same time, an unemployment rate at 9.1 percent is a reminder that a sustained labor-market rebound has yet to develop two years into the economic recovery.
COMMENT: Even taking Verizon into account – and remember that there are always strikes somewhere – these are awful figures. Anything over 400,000 is considered bad. I'm delighted, and warm all over, at Bloomberg's report that "companies are slowing the pace of firings." I'm sure that makes the unemployed feel much better. "Well, Captain Smith, the Titanic is going down at a slower pace than 20 minutes ago. Enjoy."
August 25, 2011