Initial Jobless Claims Decline Further, But Continuing Claims Fail To Make Meaningful Progress

Yves here. Jobless claims show ongoing economic damage.

By NewDealdemocrat. Originally published at Angry Bear

Weekly initial and continuing jobless claims give us the most up-to-date  snapshot of the continuing  economic impacts of the coronavirus to the average worker. Twelve weeks after calamity first struck, the theme remains “less awful.”

First, here are initial jobless claims both seasonally adjusted (blue) and non- seasonally adjusted (red). The non-seasonally adjusted number is of added importance since seasonal adjustments should not have more than a trivial effect on the huge real numbers:

There were 1.542 million new claims , which after the seasonal adjustment became 1.537 million. This is a -355,000 decline from last week’s number, and the lowest so far since the virus struck – but still almost twice as bad as the worst week during the “Great Recession.”Since we are more than a month after some States “reopened,” these new claims  primarily represent  spreading second-order impacts.

Unfortunately, the “less bad” trend has not continued in continuing claims, which lag one week behind. In the past three weeks, both the non-seasonally adjusted number (red), and the less important seasonally adjusted number (blue) have remained nearly stationary. This week the former declined by 339,000 to 20.929 million, but was 88,000 above the 20.841 reading of two weeks ago; while the latter declined by 179,000 to 18.920 million, 58,000 above its 18.861 reading two weeks ago:

This tells us that the spreading new damage is about equal to the callbacks to work from various sectors “reopening.”

On a more long-term note, historically continuing claims have peaked at the end of or just after the end of recessions. Here’s the graph showing that from the beginning of the series through 2009:

Depending on what happens with the King of Coincident Indicators, industrial production, when it is reported next week, it is possible that the NBER could call an end to a very short recession. But since the virus has not gone away, and indeed new cases are increasing again, I suspect we may see renewed restrictions implemented in many parts of the country in the next few months.

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  1. Bob

    If we have a job then its a problem. If we dont have a job then its a problem. Pff!! Where’s peter joseph when you need him

    1. jsn

      The genius of neoliberalism is framing: either normalize the economy or avoid the bug.

      And our narrative machinery is cranking full bore to pit the losers from normalizing against the losers who can’t avoid the bug.

      The role of a functioning government is to look after the interests of both sets of losers by engaging all the resources of society at large to ameliorate maximally the losses of those taking the hit. But this would require new forms of cooperation and would damage any number of contractual profit streams which constitute cardinal sins in the Church of Markets.

      1. jsn

        “…losers from not normalizing against those who can’t avoid the bug.” Not is important and I typed over it above.

  2. Norb

    Welcome to the new normal. Extreme joblessness. Putting official statistics aside, it seems the future economy will consist of individuals scrambling to fill migratory positions created by corporate behemoths and their front subsidiaries. True small business diversity will be pushed further into a black market like existence because of governmental neglect.

    Why is there no discussion about putting ALL people back to work when the crisis is over? Technological progress and efficiency probably makes a 3 day workweek possible. Train and hire more workers to fill shorter segments of time. This will never happen of course because that would take a socialist vision and leadership. It would take solidarity in the workforce, dedicated to excellence in workmanship. It would take a common vision for the future. The individuals and leadership driving todays economy can’t see past their own bank accounts and personal desires. If the lockdowns have shown anything, it is that on mass, “our” economy consists of grifting by various degrees of depravity- by all participants.

    The death knell of any society is when the elite fail to take responsibility for those under their charge. The same holds true in any social organization for that matter.

    What is fascinating to behold is the distortion created by the collision between socialist ideals and extreme individualism. Its like trying to make sense of the real world by reading tea leaves and signs in the clouds. Todays economists are truly the shamans and witchdoctors of old. They use their expertise in observation and persuasion to support an existing power structure. They move the society in one direction or another.

    Worried about unemployment, have the power to give people jobs and put people to work- then have your team of shamans ready to explain the results of the action.

    1. False Solace

      > it is that on mass, “our” economy consists of grifting by various degrees of depravity- by all participants.

      Most of us are just trying to survive in a system devised by others. If we’re vicious, it’s because the system requires viciousness. Human nature contains inherent viciousness — but the system in which we live warps us and makes us worse.

      > This will never happen of course because that would take a socialist vision and leadership.

      In this pandemic the ruling class has come out further ahead. Again. Why on earth would they change anything? From the perspective of the ruling class the system is working perfectly.

      They’ve intentionally neutered all possible avenues of change. Voting doesn’t change anything. Protesting doesn’t change anything. Riots don’t change anything. Go out in the street and get your head bashed in by militarized police. Wait a year and find out what type of nothing results from the current round of unrest. No matter what we do, we just get more fascism and indignity imposed from above.

      It’s no longer possible to create new systems, only to destroy what exists. All other mechanisms have been hollowed out to serve the short-term greed horizon of the .01%.

      Does that mean we should give up on change? No. That which is good is always worth fighting for. Besides — family blog those family bloggers. :)

  3. chris wardell

    Bourgeois culture, any culture, can only stand if it is rewarded. In prior times bourgeois culture was fundamentally supported by the upper classes, who invested in America, creating vast wealth.
    They modeled sobriety, hard-work, risk and reward. The working classes modeled the behavior through church and labor unions, standing together for each other and nation.
    The wealthy have abandoned America, and the working classes have abandoned religion, unions, and each other. Into that void steps cultural anarchy.
    Bourgeois culture requires hard-work, and discipline. It requires accountability, primarily of the wealthy. I tire of articles that lament the loss of culture without holding those accountable who have abandoned their responsibilities.

  4. eg

    Social arrangements continue — until they can’t.

    Our oligarchs will either realize that reform is necessary (unlikely) or they won’t, in which case the system upon which they rely will eventually collapse out from under them because they have denied it the resources necessary to sustain and replicate itself, or they will be devoured by external competitors who have made those necessary reforms.

    In the meantime, they devour us and our children …

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