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Ear to the Ground

Unemployment Filings at 26-Year High

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Posted on Dec 24, 2008
Generic Unemployment
connectedmichigan.com

While there’s nothing at all amusing about people losing their jobs, generic local television-esque unemployment graphics are pretty hilarious.

With American jobs being steadily peeled away, hundreds of thousands of people are being forced to seek unemployment benefits for the first time. The number of first-time claims rose 5.4 percent last week, to their highest level in more than a quarter-century.


The Washington Post:

The number of people filing for unemployment benefits hit a 26-year high last week, as the deepening recession forced more employers to cut jobs.

First-time claims for unemployment rose 5.4 percent, to 586,000 for the week ending Dec. 20, the Labor Department reported this morning. The last time claims were that high was Nov. 27, 1982. The four-week moving average, which is a less volatile indicator, rose to 558,000 from 544,250, also a 26-year high.

Orders for durable goods, such as appliances and televisions, dropped 1 percent to $186.9 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau said today. It was the fourth consecutive monthly drop but a much smaller decline than the 8.4 percent drop in October, thanks largely to orders for defense-related goods. Excluding those, which can vary widely quarter to quarter, new orders decreased by 0.9 percent.

Prices fell 1.1 percent last month, compared with 0.5 percent, the Commerce Department reported today. Much of that was due to falling gasoline and food prices. When food and energy are excluded, prices were actually flat.

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By Maani, December 26, 2008 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

hippy pam:

“unemployed people don’t pay taxes on earnings/wages so….there ain’t as much money for welfare…”

That’s true.  But in most states, unemployment compensation is taxable, which means that whether or not they find work by the next tax year, unemployed people get socked with a HUGH tax bill the year after they receive unemployment.  This is absurd and regressive in the extreme.  I am hoping that Obama will work toward eliminating taxes in unemployment income.

Peace.

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By hippy pam, December 26, 2008 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

unemployed people don’t pay taxes on earnings/wages so….there ain’t as much money for welfare…..

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By Maani, December 25, 2008 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

Little Brother:

“I was not addressing the problematic question of whether unemployment claims have actually increased and decreased as reported.  The question is problematic because the number of claims filed isn’t an accurate indicator of true unemployment; there are unemployed persons who have long since exhausted benefits, apply but aren’t eligible, don’t apply.”

If you are suggesting that the actual unemployment level is HIGHER than any report, then we are in agreement.

“I stand by my observation that news agencies headline stories about increases and declines in statistical reports as if each given increase or decline is atypical and unusually significant.”

Yet all you have provided is a single headline from four sources on the same day.  That does not support your original contention that these headlines appear regularly with DIVERGENT information.

“It’s OK with me that when I…called your bluff by submitting four recent headlines from diverse sources…”

No, you simply provided the SAME headline, for the SAME day, from four sources.  Again, that does not support your original contention that, “[H]eadlines like ‘Unemployment Claims Rise Unexpectedly’ and ‘Unemployment Claims Drop Unexpectedly’ ALTERNATE FROM WEEK TO WEEK.” (Emphasis mine)

“[Then] peacefully assert that my observation is without merit.”

It is, since, for the third time, what you provided does not support what you originally said.

In that regard, your final suggestion that “I invite third parties to review the exchange and decide for themselves whose is the more rationally consistent and credible” is fine with me.  Let them look at your original quote from the first post on this thread, and then follow our debate, and we will see exactly who has been more “consistent and credible.”

Peace.

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By Little Brother, December 25, 2008 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

http://tinyurl.com/8qg5kl

Jobless claims fall for second straight week

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Friday, August 22nd 2008, 11:30 PM

WASHINGTON - The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, the second straight drop from a six-year high, according to government data released Thursday. [...]
__________________________________________

Maani:  I was not addressing the problematic question of whether unemployment claims have actually increased and decreased as reported.  The question is problematic because the number of claims filed isn’t an accurate indicator of true unemployment; there are unemployed persons who have long since exhausted benefits, apply but aren’t eligible, don’t apply…

I stand by my observation that news agencies headline stories about increases and declines in statistical reports as if each given increase or decline is atypical and unusually significant.  The fact that the articles themselves usually provide context to explain that this “jump” isn’t as sensational as it appears is irrelevant. 

Maybe the problem is rooted with headline writers and editors, who are addicted to the sensational and scandalous.

It’s OK with me that when I answered your “rhetorical question”—or called your bluff—by submitting four recent headlines from diverse sources, you discount the evidence, reveal that you were only presenting a “rhetorical” question, add a few observations of a tangential nature by way of proposing that the very real phenomenon I describe is incredible because it isn’t borne out by factual information, then peacefully assert that ergo, my observation is without merit.

Nice work—and profitable, as Gerald Posner found when he published “Case Closed!”.

I invite third parties to review the exchange and decide for themselves whose is the more rationally consistent and credible.

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By Maani, December 25, 2008 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Little Brother:

Okay, you have fulfilled my request for “a single” headline in that regard.  But given how often you claim the “up and down” of unemployment claims, I would have expected a great deal more than a single headline of only a week ago.  Where are all the “up and down” headlines from September to mid-December?

The question is rhetorical; there weren’t any.

As well, even the headline you provide explains that, in actuality, claims were up for each of the relevant weeks - it was only the ESTIMATED claims that were overstated.

The fact is that unemployment claims have been rising STEADILY since at least September, with the ONLY “downward” trend in mid-December, and ONLY as a result of an overestimation by about 17,000 out of almost 560,000 claims.

None of this supports your contention that claims have gone “up and down” consistently over ANY given period of time.

Peace.

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By Little Brother, December 25, 2008 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

Stock futures up after drop in jobless claims - Dec 18, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/a9dvyx

Weekly Jobless Claims Fall To 554,000 - 12/18/2008
http://tinyurl.com/9a6p3b

Jobless claims ease, but still at higher levels - Thu Dec 18, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/8pg9dp

New jobless claims drop more than expected – Dec 18, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/7vu3ru

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By Maani, December 25, 2008 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

Little Brother:

Just for my amusement, would you please post a single (or more) headline since, say, September that suggests that unemployment claims are down?

Thanks.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, December 24, 2008 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment

Hey Little Bro…

Its known as shock journalism——they have to get your attention so you don’t stop reading or change channels or even surf to another site.  What’s important is not what happens day by day, but rather in the long term.  You can usually double the reported jobless rate to get the true number of people unemployed.  When the true number reaches 25-30%, then watch out for civil unrest.  And that is exactly why Obama is going to rely on government projects to prevent civil unrest.  But perhaps, the US needs a period of civil discord to make necessary corrections.

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By G.Anderson, December 24, 2008 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

I don’t want to hear anymore about how American’s have put themselves in this mess by spendintg too much, and saving too little, having an orgy of conspicuous consumption and now we’re going to pay for it.

Millions and millions of Americans, in fact the majority of American’s, have not enjoyed the supposed good times, most are living pay check to pay check, using credit cards to buy food for their kids, and found debt the only way to survive, hoping that thing would be better in the future…

and now those same American’s who we’re hanging by a thread are being discarded, while the rich are getting re assurances that now’s a good time to buy stocks, and invest in real estate…

the wealthy are taking care of their own as usual..

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By Little Brother, December 24, 2008 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

As dire as economic prospects are, it is another symptom of The Dumbing of Amerika that cyclical processes are reported with repetitious idiotic “scare” headlines.

For months now, I’ve been pointing out to a friend that headlines like “Unemployment Claims Rise Unexpectedly” and “Unemployment Claims Drop Unexpectedly” alternate from week to week.

I’d like to get my hands on the morons who publish such inanity, and ask them just who finds this phenomenon “unexpected”.  These alternating headlines have followed each other throughout the course of the year, as surely as night follows day.

This same idiocy applies with stock market headlines.  I don’t follow the market; economics makes me glaze over.  But even I know that any given day’s “surprising” rise or fall of stock market indices doesn’t mean much in the long run.

It’s as if there’s a childish belief that if the numbers go up to reflect “gains”, all will be well; if the numbers drop precipitously, we’re on the brink of economic disaster.

Maybe this all hearkens back to the trauma of the Great Depression, which spawned the simplistic belief that the Stock Market “crashed” in one fell swoop, like a vase falling off a mantelpiece smashing on the floor.  In fact, there was a long series of convulsions preceding the “crash”.

I think I’ll check back next week and post this to the “Jobless Claims Drop Unexpectedly!” article.

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