Friday, May 07, 2010

Another Take on the Latest Unemployment Numbers

Originally posted at Main St./

The new job numbers are in. From the NY Times:

The American economy added an unexpectedly strong 290,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent, the government said Friday.

“This is unambiguously a strong report for growth implications,” James O’Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global, said. “It adds to the evidence that the pickup in growth is leading to a clear-cut pickup in employment. It is very clear there has been a bounce here, and momentum has been up.”

Unambiguous? Momentum is going up, along with the unemployment rate? Sounds like double-talk to me.

Here,at least, the sugar coating wears off (bolded emphasis mine):

With revisions on Friday, April was the fourth consecutive month that the economy added workers (a revised 230,000 jobs were added in March, instead of 162,000), the job market still has a long way to go before it can be counted on to provide a base for a sustained economic recovery. More than 15.3 million were unemployed last month.

The report from the Dept. of Labor contains less spin:

In the week ending May 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 444,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 451,000. The 4-week moving average was 458,500, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week's revised average of 463,250.
The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.6 percent for the week ending April 24, unchanged from the prior week's unrevised rate of 3.6 percent.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 24 was 4,594,000, a decrease of 59,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 4,653,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,649,000, an increase of 8,000 from the preceding week's revised average of 4,641,000.

The bottom line is, of course, that nothing much has changed, except that nearly 40 million people are now on food stamps, and the outlook for the long term unemployed is not good.

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