Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It's not clear whether anyone really pays attention to the new jobless claims numbers these days, what with all the other bad economic news that continues to pour in, but, if they do, they are likely to notice when weekly claims for unemployment insurance top the 600,000 mark, which now seems inevitable.
A new high of 586,000 for the current economic cycle was set earlier this morning for the week ending December 20th. This follows readings of 575,000 and 556,000 over the prior two reporting periods and things are likely to get worse, perhaps much worse, before they get better for the labor market which is typically a lagging economic indicator.
Jobless claims are now at the highest level since November of 1982, the last time that the 600,000 level was breached at 612,000. Just one month before, in October, the all-time high of 695,000 was reached.
Adjusting for the roughly 30 percent increase in the U.S. population since that time, the all-time high in jobless claims translates to almost one million today, meaning that crossing the 600,000 mark could just be the beginning.