10:22 AM, Jul 10, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Initial claims came in at 304,000, slightly less than expected (315,000) and low enough to keep the low flame of optimism burning after last weeks good jobs number.
As Shobhana Chandra of Reuters reports:
Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the job market continues to strengthen. Jobless claims declined by 11,000 to 304,000 in the week ended July 5, the fewest in more than a month, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 45 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 315,000. There was nothing unusual in the data and no states were estimated, a spokesman said as the figures were released. Combined with data last week that showed payrolls exceeded expectations in June and thevunemployment rate fell to an almost six-year low, the drop in firings signals a rebound in second-half economic growth. As demand improves, employers will probably take on more workers, helping to lift consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy.
It is still a long slog to full employment or even full “labor force participation.” But the absence of bad news is … well, good news.
12:00 AM, Jul 5, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
After celebrating our Declaration of Independence from the British oppressor, we will return to work Monday having consumed 155 million hot dogs and, for some 41 million of us, bucked traffic jams, long security lines at airports, or storm-induced flight delays in order to visit family or whatever place attracts us in this huge country of ours.
12:46 PM, Jun 26, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
In the first quarter of 2014, GDP in the U.S. plunged at a 2.9% annual rate, and productivity—the inflation-adjusted business output per hour worked—declined at a 3.5% annual rate. This is the worst productivity statistic since 1990. And productivity since 2005 has declined by more than 8% relative to its long-run trend. This means that business output is nearly $1 trillion less today than what it would be had productivity continued to grow at its average rate of about 2.5% per year.
8:42 AM, Jun 19, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Weekly first time unemployment claims came in almost exactly as expected (which, in itself, is sort of unexpected) at 312,000. One thousand less than economists were predicting and 6,000 less than last week. Which amounts to something like treading water. We aren’t drowning, but we aren’t getting any closer to shore, either.
12:00 AM, Jun 14, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Until Eve’s encounter with the serpent, Adam did not spend a lot of time looking for work. Didn’t have to. Expelled from Eden and cursed with the necessity of earning his bread “in the sweat of his face,” he found work. Had to. Therein lies a partial, but only partial, explanation for one of the strange developments in America’s labor markets.
12:00 AM, Jun 7, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
It is mandatory for economists to point out that one data point does not make a trend. We then all-too-often fill space with, er, a discussion of one data point, most usually the monthly report on job creation. Not being one to defy convention, I will report that Friday’s jobs report was a yawner. The 217,000 new jobs created in May finally pushed total jobs above pre-recession levels, but the unemployment and labor force participation rates remained unchanged at 6.3 percent and 62.8 percent, respectively. No post-winter jobs growth spurt, at least not yet, but no reversal of recent growth either.
1:09 PM, Jun 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Senator Jeff Sessions has released a statement that says, "7 Million People Have Left The Workforce Since The President Took Office." The statement is in response to today's jobs numbers.
"Today’s jobs numbers are only enough to tread even with population growth, maintaining unemployment at 6.3 percent. When you include discouraged workers, the unemployment rate doubles to an alarming 12.2 percent. There are still 3.2 million fewer full-time employed persons than there were in 2007," says Sessions.
9:27 AM, Jun 5, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
More people filed for unemployment last week than had the week before … But the average for the month of May was lower than it has been since 2007.
12:00 AM, May 31, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Little ado about not very much. Markets yawned when the government revised its initial estimate of economic growth in the first quarter from a slight positive, +0.1 percent, to a non-trivial negative of -1.0 percent. There are several reasons that the first shrinkage of the economy in three years did not deter investors from driving share prices to record levels, defying the old injunction to “sell in May and go away.”
8:41 AM, May 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Commerce Department released revise first-quarter GDP numbers this morning. They were expected to show that the economy had actually shrunk a bit, instead of expanding by 0.1 percent as the initial report showed. The contraction was predicted to be somewhere around .5 percent. And while this was not something to be celebrated, it could be written off as the consequence of a particularly harsh winter. Climate change strikes again.
And the benefits.12:00 AM, May 24, 2014 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The fracking euphoria had to end. For three reasons. First, the claims for its benefits were wildly exaggerated, ensuring eventual disappointment as even a cheerful reality could not meet the imaginings of the pro-fossil-fuel gang. Second, environmental groups were not going to sit idly by, their formidable political weapons holstered, while fossil fuels received a new lease on life in America.