Friday, February 5, 2010

The Real Unemployment Rate

The (seasonally adjusted) figures for January have the U-3 unemployment rate at 9.7 percent-a small drop from the previous month's figure of 10 percent, and down further still from the recent peak of 10.2 percent reported late last year (since revised down to 10.1 percent).

The U-6 figure also fell back to 16.5 percent.

In short, the numbers seem slightly better. However, they remain essentially lousy, and a detailed examination of the picture hardly improves its appearance.

For one thing, as Steve Schaefer reports in a market brief at reports, there has been no actual job growth-with the economy overall suffering job losses (20,000, with gains in retail and temp hiring overcome by declines in employment in transport and warehousing).

This is notable, especially in light of a bit of buzz last month regarding reports of a 5.7 percent GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2009-which, as Schaefer notes, was due mainly to the restocking of inventories (3.4 percent of that 5.7 percent increase in output) rather than some revival of consumer demand (where would it come from, with unemployment, anxiety and credit as they are?) or really new investment. In short, it's not likely to last, and a really substantive recovery from "The Great Recession"-even to the mediocre state of things antecedent to 2007 (so easily forgotten given the past-quarter, this-quarter, next-quarter perspective of too much business journalism)-far from realized.

The Real Unemployment Rate
"Unemployment Problems Are Worse Than Meet the Eye"
The Real Unemployment Rate
Second Quarter Growth, 2009
The Real Unemployment Rate-And What It Means
Economic Update (OECD, Joshua Holland, Tim Hanson)
Global Finance Development 2009
More On The Economic Crisis (Eichengreen and O'Rourke on Industrial Output, Wolf on Eichengreen and O'Rourke, Austerity?)
Is the U.S. the New France?
The Human Cost of the Economic Crisis
The Real Unemployment Rate-And What It Means
On Consumer Spending
On the Global Economic Mess

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