Hooray! Unemployment "Only" At 9.4%

Surreal news coverage:

The United States economy lost 345,000 jobs in May, the government reported on Friday, a sharp slowing in the pace of job losses that fueled hopes that the economy was on its way toward a recovery. The recession continued to take a toll as the unemployment rate climbed to 9.4 percent, its highest point in a quarter-century. In normal times, the loss of so many jobs in a single month would have been interpreted as a calamity. But 18 months into the longest recession since the 1930s, economists said the milder pace of job losses indicated that the economy was gradually leveling off . . . “Things are still getting worse, but the pace of decline has slowed down,” said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor’s. “Over all, it’s not quite as dire as it looked in the first quarter.”

(Emphasis supplied.) Happy days are here again! Sheesh.

Speaking for me only

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    They just (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:14:38 AM EST
    simply cant bring themselves to tell the truth: it's a depression not a recession.

    I guess we should be doing carwheels when we get double digit unemployment nationanally.

    I suppose it'll be like recession (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:59:00 AM EST
    We suspect we are in a recession at midrecession and when we are finally coming out of a recession suddenly we know for a fact that we just had a recession.

    When you are part of that (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:20:53 AM EST
    9.4 peercent group, it doesn't seem like 'only.' Geez, do something, administration!

    Again (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cal1942 on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:35:56 AM EST
    not accounted are cuts in wages, decreased work hours, temporary furloughs that aren't counted in unemployment figures, deferred pay and of course the people who have simply given up.

    This AM I read an article about the decreased number of people collecting unemployment.  I really wonder if that reduced number fails to account for the people who've run out of unemployment insurace and have fallen out of the net.

    cal, UC , at least in my state (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:38:00 AM EST
    doesn't pay enough. I do know of a lot of folks who have already used up their benefits. And those benefits were low to begin with.

    Unemployment doesn't tell (none / 0) (#19)
    by Slado on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:35:19 AM EST
    half the story.  It is so much worse.

    Most companies have frozen pay raises (even in terms of inflation so they're basically pay cuts), furlows are also being implemented, 401K's are either not being matched or had the matched dropped and pile on top increase in cost of helath benefits offered by most employers.

    Against this backdrop is the fantasy budget of Obama and the completely wasted stimulus that is doing nothing.

    This is not Obama's fault it is the entire governments fault (both parties).

    As I've said repeatedly this is a down cycle 30 to 40 years in the making.  You can put the starting line at Nixon taking us away from the gold standard or even back to LBJ and the great society.

    Our government spends more then it takes in and on top of that it has boosted the economy falsley with easy money from the FED.   This has fed inflation which has worked against true wealth for the average person and caused things like cars, college and homes to be unafordable without taking on massive debt.

    This was not capitalism, this was government intervention with the idea of making things fairer.  Instead it has made the economy backlash and we are all losers for it.

    To predict groth by the end of the year or any rosey scenarios is pure fantasy and I become madder every day becaus surely Obama and his gang of fools (no worse no better then the last few gans) certainly know it.


    This WAS capitalism (none / 0) (#38)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:38:49 PM EST
    which has never existed without different forms of "intervention" to rig the game in capitals favor.

    Slado, you're like someone who looks at the sex scandals of the church, money grubbing televangelists, God-hates-queers bigots, Inquisitions etc and says "that wasnt Christianity" as if the dogmas had nothing to do with the results.


    I was wondering the same thing yesterday (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:59:10 AM EST
    when I heard the decrease in collecting in 20 wk news. Reminds me of 2002 when the same thing was going on. . .

    Yep. Almost 70,000 to be furloughed (none / 0) (#57)
    by Cream City on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 04:01:54 PM EST
    in my state -- state workers taking a 3 to 4% pay cut (because some of us are 9-month employees, so we would be hit harder by the same number of furlough days coming).  That's for the next two years.  That's after some of us did not get the 2% raise this week that first was deferred all year and then cancelled.  And add that we all also are to be hit with much higher health insurance contributions, read: more deductions from take-home pay.  And more, and more, and no raises for at least the next two years.

    It all adds up to an estimate 9 to 12% pay cut in take-home pay for almost 70,000 workers in one state alone, working for the largest employer in the state.  And why?  Because the state's income-tax revenue is down.  Now, of course, you already are capable of seeing the future impact of further reducing the income-tax revenue from all of the employees of the single largest employer in the state, the state itself. . . .

    Of course, something needs to be done with these state budget debacles.  We know it, we have family members who are laid off, furloughed, not finding jobs, etc. (I just have described every one of my children, btw, so like so many, I'll have to keep helping them while I make less -- but thank heavens, I'm making something at all, when many families now have no wage-earners.)

    The ripple effect for others around us, for local businesses, of so many workers in this state who will be spending so much less will, of course, mean more furloughs and layoffs for others.

    And that's what is called a depression -- because it will keep getting worse for years to come, unless and until we start creating and restoring jobs instead of boosting banks and big business.  


    i am sorry you children (none / 0) (#61)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 04:12:22 PM EST
    still has not found work, i have too many friends and some family in the same position.  It is hard taking their calls because all they hear is "no" all day long and you can hear it in their voice, even when they are not talking about the rejection.  I do have an adult son but he is ok, the rest are yungins.  I am not religious so i won't say i will pray for you, but I am pulling for you and them....

    My thoughts for you and your family, too (none / 0) (#62)
    by Cream City on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 04:26:52 PM EST
    And, if it helps, I just was sharing with one of them that I used to share with students my stories of trying to find work in my major during a receission, when I graduated and there were no jobs in the field.  So I went for a job in my minor and found one but was laid off within months.  Etc., etc.

    I tried to buck up students in job searches by telling them not to internalize all this -- it's not them, it's the economy.  And it's incredibly rude employers, their numbers increasingly legion, who don't even acknowledge receipt of resumes, or those who do so and promise callbacks but then don't call back, etc.

    I told students that the only worse rejection possible that they could invite would be to walk naked into a singles bar.:-)  It's that bad.  So we have to be there for our friends' and families' calls through this, so hang in there.


    your heart is failing, (4.50 / 2) (#7)
    by cpinva on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:36:41 AM EST
    just a bit slower than we thought.

    oddly, i am not cheered, since death is still the end result.

    yeah well (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:31:16 AM EST
    completely half my prediction of 650k two months ago.  Crow tastes awful.

    It is still a crappy number but getting worse more slowly as Mr. Ritholz says is a lot less painful for us as a whole.

    the bigger news is continuing claims dropping for the first time in 20 weeks though.  A fraction of a percent drop but a drop.

    Last fall our representatives did nothing about the impending job crisis and collectively the economy and our people are paying the price.  

    I would have never thought in a million years I would be happy to hear only 350k lost but truth be told I am very happy.

    The bigger concern I have is the prognosis for employment over the next 18 months.  It may take 2 years to get under 7% and of course we are not done "rising" yet.

    Ok, now i am bummed again.

    I dont (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:43:19 AM EST
    find any solace in the claim number dropping because, at least here in GA, they are doing everything to keep you from claiming UEI. Several friends have had to go on appeal to get their claims approved.

    Well, it took three weeks for me to (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:47:37 AM EST
    get my first check. I didn't have to file any appeals, but geez...

    I think that's normal (none / 0) (#14)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:04:44 AM EST
    iirc, there's was (or used to be) a 2 week "waiting period" before the first check goes out. That's why they encourage you to apply right away. When I was laid off, I was all confused because of the severance pay, but apparently that doesn't matter.

    I was warned it could take 5-6 weeks, (none / 0) (#16)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:12:45 AM EST
    i should consider myself lucky. Here thery have a big backlog, or at least that's what I was told.

    Once you're up and running (none / 0) (#20)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:38:55 AM EST
    it's pretty efficient from my experience. I can't remember how long they said my first check could take, I just remember them urging me to go home and get it done right away. It was actually pretty painless to file on line weekly for the checks.

    Are they doing the extended benefits thing still?


    which type? extended weeks, or (none / 0) (#21)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:41:40 AM EST
    the extra 25/week? the extra 25/week runs until June 2010.

    Extended weeks (none / 0) (#24)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:46:33 AM EST
    I didn't realize they were giving an extra 25/week.

    I was eligible for the extended weeks, which helped keep me from panicking . . . too much.


    I need to check, but I don't want to (none / 0) (#25)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:51:45 AM EST
    the extra came from the Obama administration earlier this year.

    One month does not make a trend (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:33:53 AM EST
    precisely. (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 08:36:12 AM EST
    this could be summer hires or a blip b/c of low inventory... GM hasn't laid off anyone yet have they?

    It is most likely due to (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:01:09 AM EST
    the usual summer jobs increase.

    You just reminded me of a news story I saw (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by nycstray on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:07:09 AM EST
    a couple weeks ago. The amount of people applying for local life guard jobs. Not your average college student applying this year . . .

    Yep. I chair a committee that hires (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Cream City on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 04:07:56 PM EST
    students, and we were swamped with applications this year -- two to three times as many as usual.

    And, of course, we are dealing with budget cuts that mean we had fewer jobs to fill than usual.

    But all this has been solved for us, because fewer jobs for students will mean fewer students; enrollments are dropping greatly for fall.  So then some bureaucrat will give some pol some numbers that will show the good news! that there actually has been a decline in the number of students applying for but not getting jobs.  And then there will be another good news! release to tell us that it's not that bad.  Watch for it.


    you are right (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:26:51 AM EST
    and it is probably just because personally i was expecting 650k that psychologically i got excited. Like going to the doctor with gangrene on both legs and only losing one of them.  

    The GM bankruptcy will filter down quickly and CRE and hospitality are on eggshells.  I bummed myself right back out quickly.


    People might be waiting (none / 0) (#18)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:32:40 AM EST
    to file, to take the opportunity to take the kids on vacation...you know, pretend everything is fine for kid's sake but that camping is far better than the trip to Disney they were promising... ;-).

    It's difficult to go on vacation once you file.


    Not these days; filing is online now (none / 0) (#60)
    by Cream City on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 04:09:14 PM EST
    and quite different from when I had to go on unemployment comp and had to go in person every week with my paperwork, etc.

    Nevertheless, (none / 0) (#22)
    by bob h on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:42:16 AM EST
    who would have guessed that by June we would be seeing unmistakeable signs that the worst is over, before most of the stimulus spending has even kicked in.
    It is a big accomplishment for Obama and his economic team.

    Unmistakeable signs? (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 09:45:12 AM EST
    Um, I don't think so.  

    It has to (none / 0) (#26)
    by JThomas on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 10:13:56 AM EST
    stop getting worse before it starts getting better and so this is a good sign.

    I for one, was not expecting any uptick like this for another 2-3 months. I think the uptick in the stock market is helping consumer confidence and that in turn is spurring a little more spending than I anticipated. Granted, those of us who are unemployed remained mired in misery but for the 200 million plus employed or retired, just seeing their 401k statements rebound significantly the last 4 months frees up a little spending,hopefully.


    Look bob h (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 11:18:13 AM EST
    I'm with you, I see the possibility of green shoots too.  As soon as team Obama gets to deal with the utter and complete failure of its save big business first and that will save us all pocket lining bonanza......then I think we may get to have some real solutions that work.

    The truth is (none / 0) (#27)
    by eric on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 10:15:03 AM EST
    that much of the moneyed class likes to have unemployment this high.  It is great for them to have wage slaves and plentiful cheap labor.  The only down side for big business is the lack of retail spending that goes along with high unemployment and lack of consumer confidence.  But once we get used to a baseline 9-10% unemployment, that will come back.

    America has finally become the America that Reagan envisioned.

    That's a pretty unsubstantiated statment (none / 0) (#34)
    by Slado on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:18:08 PM EST
    and what is your meaning?

    The moneyed class wants to make money.  For that to happen people need to be able to buy things.

    The rich can't horde all the money to themselve.

    High unemployment helps nobody other then government workers who are hired to handle unemployement claims.

    An equally silly argument could be made that high unemployment helps liberals because they get more votes from people who need government services.


    High unemployment (none / 0) (#36)
    by eric on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:25:32 PM EST
    means cheap labor.  It means people will work for less money, less vacation, and fewer benefits.  Business loves high unemployment with the caveat that I stated above, it can't be so high as to depress consumer demand.

    But, once we get used to 10% unemployment, the other 90% will go right back to shopping at Wal-Mart.  And the Walmart people will be making even less.


    high ue (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:31:32 PM EST
    also means lack of consumption which means strained earnings for companies large and small.  None of us like high UE, our economy is 70% service based and we need a low UE.

    More importantly, corporate earnings have fallen off the map year to year in almost every industry save for defense and hc.

    Cheap labor means you are making less money and your labor has less money to spend.  

    Everyone loves a gravy train and I promise you that most big businesses are not having parties because they get to pay people less so that the people can spend less and prolong the recession...


    Exactly (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Slado on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:41:09 PM EST
    Buisness operate on simple economic terms like ROIC (Return on Invested Capital) and NOPAT (profit after tax).

    So while your basic assertion that cheap labor will raise ROIC and NOPAT becaus those items as expenses will be less everything else is also affected in an economy where we are all inter dependent.

    I can assure you that my companies and any company I know of ROIC and NOPAT are down because overall sales are down and most are actually operating with a higher cost of labor (as a percentage of sales) becasue they are actually trying to keep good employees becausse whenever there is an upturn any extra profits will be wiped away by the added expense to train someone new.

    But go ahead and believe what you want if it makes you feel better.

    Nobody is winning in this economy.   Class envy just leads to more bad policies that eventually hurt the little guy.


    not only do slado and i agree entirely (none / 0) (#47)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:24:05 PM EST
    for the first ever, I am actually going to pay a compliment here for a post that is written ten times better than mine. Nicely done.

    Somebody needs to get the word out (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:58:03 PM EST
    that cheap labor is bad for the economy.

    Apparently there's more than one school of (theoretically) economically informed thought about this.


    What does Walmart (none / 0) (#43)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:01:34 PM EST
    and the plethora of temp agencies tell people, "Be thankful you dont live in India"?

    walmart is a different business model (none / 0) (#49)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:33:13 PM EST
    than most in this country.  I never understood it back in the 70's and 80's but my father promised that a significant reduction in mfg and production in this country would yield low wage work for the working class.  We went from over 26% in the 1970's of total jobs were mfg to just 9% now.  What were those jobs replaced with? Crappy call center positions and wal-mart types.

    that is a gross oversimplification of the issue and it would take 2000 words to lay it out clearly.  Walmart, the worlds biggest employer, employs less than one tenth of one percent of US employees, and they have lots of high paying jobs in Arkansas. they are providing jobs in locales that used to have skilled mfg positions.  

    Want to correct wages?  Force China to stop manipulating its currency or get rid of free trade and implement "fair trade" so that we cdan compete again in mfg.  Until we do wal-mart may not pay well, but it is a job.



    Manfufacturing didnt just reduce (none / 0) (#51)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:40:40 PM EST
    it went elsewhere, sent there be others who, apparently, were also operating on the "different business model."

    One tenth of one percent, and those "lots" of high paying jobs in Arkansas amounts to what?

    The troulble with micro and macro economists is that they cant say ANYTHING in 2000 words or less; and then they still disagree, sometimes radically.


    Economic is turning into the Kabala (none / 0) (#53)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:49:19 PM EST
    and astrology of the twenty-first century.

    Economics (none / 0) (#54)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:50:06 PM EST
    lol (none / 0) (#56)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:52:32 PM EST
    spot on

    fair trade or free trade (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:51:26 PM EST
    it cannot be explained in 2k words or less because the problem simply has too many moving parts.  

    Clinton was a big proponent of offshoring because it would bring higher paying jobs here. It hasn't happened.  Let's start with China playing on an even playing field and doing something about americans' desires for LOW LOW priced crap made in Asia.  I have been trying to buy nothing made in China, and I can tell you firsthand, it is darned near impossible.  

    I agree lower wage jobs suck, but the problem is bigger than corporate profits especially considering how much americans shop price first, where it was made never.


    Indeed (none / 0) (#45)
    by eric on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:05:40 PM EST
    and not only that, I would bet the opposite is also true: that low unemployment and high wages are good for the economy!  Sounds like a crazy liberal idea.

    You make me sick. (none / 0) (#46)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:06:55 PM EST
    Thanks Slado and Jl. (none / 0) (#41)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:43:38 PM EST
    Eric's comments were so ill-informed they make me want to vomit.

    Classy (none / 0) (#44)
    by eric on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:02:10 PM EST
    Listen, you may not agree with me, but I am certainly not ill-informed.

    But go ahead and believe what you want (none / 0) (#48)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:27:06 PM EST
    But go ahead and believe what you want if it makes you feel better.

    Nobody is winning in this economy.   Class envy just leads to more bad policies that eventually hurt the little guy

    "Winning" is ALWAYS (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:33:17 PM EST
    a relative term. And who decides whats "envy" and whats justice and common decency?

    fair question jondee (none / 0) (#52)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 03:47:14 PM EST
    but isn't meritocracy at the root of capitalism?  I know that cronyism, plays a significant role but common decency in my opinion is darned near impossible with capitalism.  

    My mom and dad make in a year what I make in three months. A down economy with no OT for my dad is very difficult considering their debt.  They are siffering and I am too, only differently.  My way of life is still better (which i hope the same for my children) but to what extent do i threaten my financial stability to fix theirs?  If I don't who does?  And if I help them so much that i jeopardize myself, who helps me?

    How do we define common decency and whose role is it to provide it?  Are we to assume that liquidity issues are restricted to the middle and lower middle class?  

    I think the lower down the pole you are the more painful the suffering.  Higher up the ladder the greater the scrutiny.  We all should save more and I think the credit bubble has its fair share of every class.  Meaning, not every one who makes 150k per year can go without salary so that 3 others at 50k can keep their job.  If you counted all the C level professionals in this country you might have 100,000 of them.  That is what, .0001 of the population?

    I am all for higher taxes and a lot less finger pointing by both sides.


    Very well said, my friend (none / 0) (#58)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 04:05:24 PM EST
    Mmmm Kool-Aid is so Tasty! (none / 0) (#28)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 10:16:22 AM EST
    Especially in the Hopey-Changey flavor!

    Most companies have frozen pay raises (even in terms of inflation so they're basically pay cuts), furlows are also being implemented, 401K's are either not being matched or had the matched dropped and pile on top increase in cost of helath benefits offered by most employers.

    Yep, yep, yep. Most people I know have had their pay and/or benefits cut, and everyone  just meekly accepts it because what are you going to do? Then there are all the "early retirements" and people "leaving to pursue other opportunities" that are hidden forms of layoffs.

    What's really infuriating about this refusal to face facts is that it leaves too many people misinformed and grasping at straws. I still hear people say they're just going to hold onto their house "for a couple more years, until prices go back up again," even though I have gone blue in the face telling them that isn't going to happen-probably ever.

    A couple of days ago I was talking to someone I know who just took a 35% pay cut and is worried he can't pay his mortgage now -- "Well," he said, "I just have to hold out for a year or so and then everything should be back on track." NO, I wanted to scream, NO NO NO!!! But it's useless.

    And mind you, it's not as if I have any special knowledge of economics, indeed far from it. My special knowledge comes from living through two bad recessions and doing work that's not exactly recession-proof even in the best of times. Thank God I've been through the UE mill enough times to know a few tricks and have planted a vegetable garden this year.

    My brother and sister in law (none / 0) (#29)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 10:21:24 AM EST
    work in relatively recession proof industries:

    Potato chips and

    If they lose their jobs, we know things are going down the tubes.

    Exactly spot on with your comment.  Yes, jobs went away, and they likely aren't coming back.  Housing prices CORRECTED from a bubble.  People don't understand bubbles.  They think housing just pretty much always appreciates.  Not so.

    It will be interesting to see what happens when the 9.4% on the unemployment roles run out of UE benefits (interesting in a bad way).


    Hurray for common sense!!!! (none / 0) (#35)
    by Slado on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:21:17 PM EST
    Housing is historicly flat over the long haul like any other commodity.

    There is nothing special about a house.

    The S/D curbe applies.   There is currently more homes then anyone can afford to live in.

    Get used to your house and start saving money.  No matter what the government tells you.


    hmmm (none / 0) (#30)
    by CST on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 10:53:39 AM EST
    Well, traffic engineering seems to be slowly bouncing back.  At least around my neck of the woods.  Yay Stimulus.  People are actually starting to hire again.

    off topic, but (none / 0) (#31)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 11:11:02 AM EST
    where are the instructions on how to post links?

    thank you.

    I am not sure (none / 0) (#33)
    by eric on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 11:25:39 AM EST
    if they are written down anywhere, but this is how to do it:

    1. Type in some text that you want to link to;
    2. Select the text by highlighting it with your mouse;
    3. Click the link button above this text box (it looks like links in a chain);
    4. A prompt will pop up asking you for the address of the link - paste the link in there;
    5. Hit OK.

    Hey, thank you n/t (none / 0) (#40)
    by NYShooter on Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 02:41:38 PM EST