Thursday, November 13, 2008
The Labor Department reported that new claims for unemployment insurance rose to a level last seen during the week of September 29, 2001, just after the terrorist attacks.
Jobless claims rose by 32,000, to a seasonally adjusted 516,000, falling just short of the 517,000 mark set in 2001 which was the highest total since July of 1992 when 564,000 claims were filed.
The four-week moving average increased to 491,000, the highest level in over 17 years, putting today's weakening job market on par with the early 1990s recession.
Interestingly, back in the recession of the early 1980s, jobless claims were much higher than 1992, 2001, or last week, routinely exceeding the 600,000 level in 1982 when the U.S. population was significantly smaller (~230 million versus ~305 million today).
A "back of the envelope" calculation indicates that if we reach 1982 level job losses in the period ahead, we'll see weekly jobless claims peak at somewhere around 900,000.
Continuing claims also increased, a clear sign of how difficult it has become for displaced workers to find new employment. In this case, early 1980 levels have already been reached, the most recent figure of 3.9 million being the highest total since January of 1983.