Economic news: Surge in new unemployment claims; unemployment rate starting to rise.

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Another huge jump in new unemployment claims. The rise in count of people without work is barely starting to show in the unemployment rate.

It would be wise to start watching the economic stats more closely than usual.

(Cross-post from my other blog, Attestation Update.)

4/9/20 – CNBC – US weekly jobless claims jump by 6.6 million and we’ve now lost 10% of workforce in three weeks – Another surge in new unemployment claims announced today. Here is a recap:

3/21/20          3.3
3/28/20          6.9
4/4/20          6.6
3 week total        16.8
Great Recession losses          8.7
new jobs since Great Recession        24.8


Just three weeks in the US economy has lost about twice as many jobs as during the entire Great Recession.

My very easy guess is that tally will continue to grow.

That level of job loss combined with closing entire industries and the impact of severe isolation will have horrible health effects in the future.

The unemployment numbers will be difficult to interpret since 1.3 million people can’t look for work (per article) meaning they have dropped out of the job market and therefore won’t be included in the U-6 unemployment stat.

Unemployment rate just starting to move – The March unemployment data is out. The info is just starting to show the impact of closing the US economy.

There are six different measures of unemployment provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The most cited indicator, the U-3, is referred to as the official unemployment rate. Another one, the U-6, shows a calculation of the people who are unemployed plus marginally attached plus those in part-time positions because they can’t find full time jobs.

Excluded from the calculations are people who have stopped looking for work. These are called discouraged workers. The U-6 will also miss people who can’t look for work due to stay-at-home orders or who know there won’t be any work for them.

In March the U-3 went up 0.9 points. The U-6 surged 1.7 points, which is big. Probably less than what we will see in the next report, but that is still a huge increase.

Data from the last three months:

Measure jan ’20 feb ’20 mar ’20
 U-1 Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force.       1.2        1.2           1.2
 U-2 Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force.       1.6        1.7           2.4
 U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate).       3.6        3.5           4.4
 U-4 Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers.       3.8        3.8           4.7
 (marginallly attached) U-5 Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other persons marginally attached to the labor force, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.       4.4        4.4           5.5
 (involuntary PT) U-6 Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force.       6.9        7.0           8.7


4/7/20 – CNBC – Requests to delay mortgage payments jump nearly 2,000% as borrowers seek relief during coronavirus outbreak – I can’t put the percent increase in requests into any context. Consider this:

Percent of all serviced loans in federal guarantee programs that are in forbearance increased from 0.25% on March 2 to 2.66% on April

Ginnie Mae loans in forbearance increased from 0.19% on March 2 up to 4.25% on April 1.

Let’s do an instant replay on the percent of serviced loans in forbearance:

all svc GNMA
March 2 0.25% 0.19%
April 1 2.66% 4.25%


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