Real Good News? Really? No, Not Really

Nancy Cook at Newsweek:

The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped last week by 31,000, to 473,000, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Although the national unemployment rate remains high, the numbers come as somewhat of a relief. The previous week, new filings hit 500,000 (and have since been revised higher to 504,000). Last week’s news sent the stock market tumbling and caused even more chatter about the possibility of a double-dip recession.

Since then, each day has brought more sour economic news. Sales of existing homes dropped by 27.2 percent for the month of June, the lowest level since 1995, according to Tuesday’s data from the National Association of Realtors. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that businesses were no longer spending as much on durable goods or large items such as equipment, and on Friday, the Commerce Department will release the revised estimates for the second-quarter gross domestic product. Like all of the economic data this week, those numbers also should be bad. Economists have estimated that the numbers will show the economy is growing at a rate of only 1.4 percent, when initially it was reported as growing 2.4 percent.

Mike Taylor at New York Observer:

Hooray?Not exactly, since economists tend to think a “good” rate of weekly initial claims is somewhere between 400,000 and 450,000. On the other hand, almost everyone agrees that 473,000 welfare slobs is better than last week’s half a million, a nine-month high.

Sort of. The Labor Department’s count of people who continued to file for government assistance came in at 4.46 million, 62,000 less than a revised figure for the previous week and below analyst expectations of around 4.5 million.

Mike Shedlock at Favstocks:

Weekly claims fell 31,000 from the last week’s total total of 504,000 (revised up by 4,000). Nonetheless, 473,000 can hardly be considered encouraging. It is solidly in territory that suggests the economy is shedding jobs.

Once again the pile of overoptimistic economist estimates continues to mount. Today, weekly unemployment claims hit 500,000 exceeding every forecast. This is (at minimum) the 4th time since March every economist was overly optimistic regarding unemployment claims. Nicely done guys.

James Picerno at Seeking Alpha:

The case for expecting jobless claims to meander at an elevated level looks compelling, short of arguing that something’s about to intervene and provide relief in the way of material improvement in the labor market. Never say never, but there’s no obvious catalyst waiting in the wings for the near term. What’s more, there’s a case for wondering if the labor market is set to weather greater challenges before it enjoys better news. As Bloomberg News reports today:

A slowdown in U.S. business investment may soon hit the job market, further hindering a recovery in the world’s largest economy.

Capital spending, one of the few bright spots in the recovery, declined in July, according to Commerce Department figures released yesterday in Washington. Sales of new homes fell to the lowest level since data began in 1963, another report from the same agency showed, indicating a lack of jobs is crippling housing.

The next round of confirmation (or not) arrives next week, when the government releases the August payrolls report on September 3 (Friday). Meantime, there’s still enough of a gray area in the economic numbers overall to see almost anything you want. The safe assumption is that the future looks likely to bring more water torture as the economy remains technically in a recovery that otherwise feels like a recession. Minds will differ, of course, but more of the same appears to be heading our way.

Scott Grannis at Seeking Alpha:

By next week, we’ll probably see the adjusted number fall a bit further, to show that claims are about where they’ve been on average since January. In short, all the hoopla over claims has been an exercise in futility, because there has been no real change in the underlying fundamentals of the labor market so far this year. The much-anticipated double-dip recession is still a no-show in the data.


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Filed under Economics, The Crisis

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