Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jobless in America - Continued Unemployment Claims

Updated September 6th 2013

While the mainstream media concentrates on the weekly initial jobless claims data release, they rarely seem to provide any coverage or analysis of the rate of continued claims, also released on a weekly basis.  This statistical measure includes workers that qualify for unemployment benefits under unemployment insurance and excludes those that are not eligible for benefits and those that have exhausted their unemployment benefits.  As such, it is not equivalent to the total number of unemployed persons.

From FRED, here is a graph showing the number of continued unemployment claims back to January 1965, giving us a sense of what post-recession recovery periods look like:

Here is the same data for the period from January 2007 to the present showing the that the rate of  continued claims was steady at a range of between 2.3 million and 2.6 million just prior to the Great Recession:

The current rate of just under 3 million, while down 55 percent from the May 2009 peak of 6.619 million, is still 22 percent above the pre-Great Recession midpoint level of 2.45 million.  As well, since February 2013, the rate has been firmly stuck in a range between 2.9 and 3.1 million and is showing no real sign of improving anytime soon.

Let's look at two more graphs from FRED.  The first shows the number of Americans unemployed for 27 weeks or longer:

Things have not looked more grim for the long-term unemployed.  Just prior to the Great Recession, the number of long-term unemployed Americans hovered between 1.1 and 1.3 million.  Four years into the recovery, the number of long-term unemployed Americans was still elevated at 4.2 million in July 2013, nearly 350 percent above the level just prior to the Great Recession.

The second graph shows the number of non-farm job openings back to 2001:

The current number of job openings at 3.936 million is still well below the pre-Great Recession level of  4.5 to 4.7 million experienced in 2006 and 2007.

For unemployed Americans, unfortunately, there is little reason to be upbeat.  Unless the economy improves markedly, my suspicion is that we will not see a drop in the number of continued unemployment least until the unemployed exhaust their benefits.


  1. Even middle class America has to face reality sometimes.Our economic downfall is precisely the result of middle class choices. Since Reagan, govt has redistributed several trillion taxpayer dollars upward, largely to corporations -- always "vital to job creation." This continues to be used to build factories and offices outside the US, shipping out our jobs. A massive chunk of middle class jobs were shipped out. As the number of jobs in the US continued to shrink, govt ended welfare, creating a (growing) workfare replacement workforce. This is no-rights labor that can be paid a fraction of the wages of former workers -- and they have no options. As they replace workers, more people become super-cheap workfare labor, themselves. They have no choice. And the snowball keeps rolling downhill.

    1. Typical liberal BS!!!

    2. Actually its not and I'm not a liberal I believe he's pointing out the drivers in today's economy. Between jobs going overseas and the continuing influx of immigrants as with other looming politically driven agendas associated with globalization the middle class will continue to settle for less at no choice of their own.

  2. Creating jobs in a mature market should be required to pass a certain "taste" test. It should be pointed out that while America is creating jobs it is costing a huge amount. I'm referring to the massive government deficit which I feel is the fuel driving our still rather weak growth. Is it sustainable, and just as important are these the right kind of jobs and will they last? When a job that falls outside the description of government worker fails to make economic sense it becomes a form of working welfare with the taxpayer picking up the tab. We as a country and as a society have paid dearly for each unsustainable job created through government incentives and partnerships, more on creating real jobs in the post below,

  3. There are many government mandated disincentives to hiring, all created with good intentions. In addition to these are a maze of permits and regulations that raise barriers to investment and job creation. Let me be clear. I do not ask that all laws, rules, permits, and regulation should be dismantled. I do, however, point out that many or most have unintended consequences that do more harm than good; and they hold back investment and job creation.

  4. In case of unemployment, people rely mainly in unemployment benefits. The industry should do something to cater to those involved efficiently.