Watch America become a wasteland of unemployment

If unemployment claims rising to the highest level since November doesn’t put you in the right partying mood, this visual graph of the nation’s growing unemployment numbers will sure do the trick. Don’t forget your flask this weekend!

(Thanks, HuffPo.)

UPDATE: Good point, Despondent! Things are even more depressing! The real unemployment rate — when you factor in people who have given up looking for jobs or underemployed folks working part-time or less — is closer to 20%, which Salon pointed out back in October.

Unemployed should add “not getting sick” to New Year’s resolutions

Your weekly round-up of hopeless economy news.

  • Millions of unemployed U.S. workers face sharply higher health insurance premiums and loss of coverage as temporary federal subsidies expire. [Reuters]

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Hopeless thought of the day: Plan to live at home for at least another 4 years

I always lie naked on a random rock when things get really sad.

The recent slowdown in job losses is welcome but only marks the beginning of the difficult process of rehiring the more than 8 million workers sidelined by the recession. With unemployment still rising, payroll levels have shrunk nearly 6 percent since the recession began in December 2007. That is nearly three times the level of job loss during the last recession in 2001.

After the 2001 recession it took 18 months to restore employment to pre-recession levels. At that rate, even if the economy began adding jobs next month, employment levels wouldn’t return to pre-recession levels until June 2014.


“Hey. Are you going to eat that?”

A weekly round-up of hopeless economy news.

  • The number of Americans who lacked reliable access to sufficient food shot up last year to its highest point since the government began surveying in 1995, the Agriculture Department reported. In its annual report on hunger, the department said that 17 million American households, or 14.6 percent of the total, “had difficulty putting enough food on the table at times during the year.” That was an increase from 13 million households, or 11.1 percent, the previous year. [NYT]
  • Early signs suggest the number of suicides in the U.S. crept up during the worst recession in decades, according to a Wall Street Journal survey of states that account for about 40% of the U.S. population. [WSJ]
  • A growing number of states reported rising jobless rates in October, and thirteen states reported unemployment rates above the national average of 10.2%, according to a government report released on Friday. [CNNMoney] Continue reading

The recession is all in your head

We think the stock market crashed right around your frontal lobe.

According to Yale prof Robert J. Shiller, the economic recovery that many people attribute to Wall Street or the stimulus package is based on little more than self-fulfilling prophecy.

The economy is so dependent on the subtle consumer psychology that the type of word we use to describe our situations can make a huge difference.

“Recession,” a kinder, gentler term, began to be used around the time of the 1937-38 contraction to refer to a normal downturn in the business cycle. In January 1938, The Chicago Daily Tribune offered a wry definition of a recession, calling it “a new word for depression, coined by those who don’t like to admit that we’re still in one.”

And apparently, compared to the dastardly depression,  a recession is only as bad as a sneeze here and there. Continue reading

Economist Nouriel Roubini says jobs are just not coming back

Nouriel Roubini

These are the glasses of a very wise - and gloomy - man.

Nouriel Roubini, Dr. Doom of the economist world, has these wise words of encouragement for Americans who have been getting by on savings, unemployment, and pity dinners from friends and relatives:

So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.

Boy, that brick of truth is just refreshing, isn’t it? Better start saving up on those canned soups and beans. Though, there is a solution.

There’s really just one hope for our leaders to turn things around: a bold prescription that increases the fiscal stimulus with another round of labor-intensive, shovel-ready infrastructure projects, helps fiscally strapped state and local governments and provides a temporary tax credit to the private sector to hire more workers. Helping the unemployed just by extending unemployment benefits is necessary [but] not sufficient; it leads to persistent unemployment rather than job creation.

This advice is similar to what we’ve heard elsewhere. So those of you that can handle a shovel have a chance of getting a job next year. Maybe. But this seems like a horribly anachronistic solution for revitalizing an economy in the digital age. Yeah, more men are unemployed than women statistically, but can’t there be a WPA-like job project for the more delicately inclined, like tweeting about said shovels from a safe distance behind one’s computer screen?

As 75% of lost jobs were held by men, women become primary source of income



A weekly round-up of hopeless economy news.

  • So far, 7.5 million jobs have been lost in this recession, and the lion’s share of them — 75 percent — were held by men. Meanwhile, more and more women have had to become their family’s primary source of income. But women still don’t make as much money as men. [NPR]
  • The high unemployment of unmarried women, and particularly the 1.3 million unemployed female heads of household who are primary breadwinners for their families, is devastating to their financial circumstances and standard of living. [American Progress]
  • In all, more than one out of every six workers — 17.5 percent — were unemployed or underemployed in October. The previous recorded high was 17.1 percent, in December 1982. [NYT]
  • It hurts more to be unemployed now than the last time the jobless rate hit 10 percent. Americans have more than triple the debt they had in 1982, and less than half the savings. They spend 10 weeks longer off the job. And a bigger share of them have no health insurance, leaving them one medical emergency away from financial ruin. [AP] Continue reading

Unemployment rate hits 10.2%, highest in 26 years

woman screaming

Yes, the statistics are that scary.

What a great headline to wake up to. More from the NYT :

The United States economy shed 190,000 jobs in October, and the unemployment rate reached a 26-year high of 10.2 percent, up from 9.8 percent in September, the Department of Labor said Friday in its monthly economic appraisal. […] Since the beginning of the recession in 2007, the number of unemployed Americans has increased by 8.2 million people, and the unemployment rate has risen by 5.3 percentage points.

But all is not lost. Some of us are underemployed: making some moolah with a part-time gig while salaried jobs are nowhere in sight.

The number of temporary workers grew by 34,000 — a significant gain that could indicate employers are beginning to expand their businesses again. […] The underemployment rate, which includes part-time workers, the jobless and those who have given up on searching, was 17.5 percent in October — the highest level since at least 1994.

At least these stats will help convince your parents you’re not a failure. It’s not you. It’s the economy.

Hear that employers? Obama wants you to hire us


People can smell the unemployed from a mile away.

A weekly round-up of hopeless economy news.

After the government announced growth at an annual rate of 3.5 percent from July through September yesterday, most people nary even winked an eyelash. Obama addressed the need to get those of us unemployed out of our jammies and into the workforce.

“The benchmark I use to measure the strength of our economy is not just whether our GDP is growing, but whether we are creating jobs, whether families are having an easier time paying their bills, whether our businesses are hiring and doing well,” Obama said.

  • The Labor Department’s most recent report on job openings and turnover showed a series-low level of 2.4 million job openings on the last business day in August, compared with roughly 15 million unemployed job seekers. [Us News]
  • There are about six unemployed Americans for every job opening. Home foreclosure-related filings—including default notices, foreclosure auctions, and bank repossessions—are on pace to reach about 3.5 million this year, up from more than 2.3 million last year. [BusinessWeek]
  • According to Department of Labor Statistics there is only one job for every six unemployed workers who are looking for work. [American Progress]
  • Workers in more than half of U.S. households will likely be unable to retire at 65 at the same lifestyle they enjoy today, a new study says. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College says its latest analysis of household financial status shows 51 percent are at high risk of falling short of having enough money in retirement. That’s up from 44 percent in 2007. [AP via ABCNews]
  • Likewise, stagnant consumer demand and withering consumer confidence have left companies wary of hiring more employees — or, for that matter, taking any expensive risks. The jobless rate reached 9.8 percent in September, its highest rate in 26 years. [NYT]

Today is the 80-year anniversary of the Great Depression’s big crash


Pretty! Something tells me this cute newsprint won't be around for much longer.

Congratulations, America!

The best tidbit in the email-delivered NYT today is the On This Day feature. Turns out, as news outlets everywhere are celebrating the official end of this year’s recession and the government’s growing GDP (though not everyone is breaking out the champagne), today also happens to be the day the stock market crashed back in 1929.

On Oct. 29, 1929, stock prices collapsed on the New York Stock Exchange amid panic selling. Thousands of investors were wiped out.

Stock prices virtually collapsed yesterday, swept downward with gigantic losses in the most disastrous trading day in the stock market’s history. Billions of dollars in open market values were wiped out as prices crumbled under the pressure of liquidation of securities which had to be sold at any price.

From every point of view, in the extent of losses sustained, in total turnover, in the number of speculators wiped out, the day was the most disastrous in Wall Street’s history. Hysteria swept the country and stocks went overboard for just what they would bring at forced sale.

Ah, the memories. For a sense of fun and perspective, read the full article here.

It could take years to get out of this mess


Do you think Santa is out of work too?

Technically, we are no longer in a recession.

The Dow has exceeded 10,000 points. Stocks have surged about 50 percent since their March lows.  Wall Street is making money again. And according to the AP, forecasters say the government’s GDP will show growth at an annual rate of about 3 percent, validating that the recession ended in June or July.

But what about the 15 million of us still hoping for food stamps?

James K. Galbraith, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin, suggests too much attention is given to when recessions technically begin and not enough to other measures of the economy.

“It’s just a word. A recession technically lasts during negative quarters. But that doesn’t mean you’re back to prosperity once you have positive growth. You’re back to prosperity when the unemployment rate is back around 4 percent,” Galbraith said. And that, he said, could take years.

Recession, shmession. It’s all word play until Christmas comes around and nobody gets any presents.

Two recession-proof industries everyone should get behind

The combination of fast food with one of America's favorite pasttimes kind of makes me sick.

Do you think they do parties too?

Time reports that Halloween sales will reach a record-breaking $6 billion in 2009, up 4.2% from last year. And McDonalds has posted a nearly 6% gain in third-quarter profit and its shares rose 2% last week. Based on these stats alone, dressing like dead celebrity sluts and greasy fries always persevere.

I’ve never been prouder to be an American.

Also, I think my Halloween costume has been decided for me.

The economy is giving kids in Hawaii a day off

This is what the unemployed look like in the morning.

This is what the unemployed look like in the morning.

A weekly round-up of hopeless economy news.

  • The economic downturn has proven so costly to the US state of Hawaii, local officials have forced public schools to cut their school week to just four days, starting on Friday. With teachers sent home on the last day of the week to save money, 171,000 students in the island chain state in the Pacific Ocean will have their overall school year cut by 17 days, to 163 in total — the lowest number of school days out of the entire country. [AFP]
  • According to official statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States is now 9.8 percent. But those statistics understate the severity of the jobs crisis. The official statistics do not include the 875,000 Americans who have given up looking for work, even though they want jobs. When these “marginally attached” workers and part-time workers are added to the officially unemployed, the result, according to another, broader governement measure of unemployment known as “U-6,” is shockingThe United States has an unemployment rate of 17 percent. And even this may understate the depth of the problem. By adding the 3.4 million Americans who want a job but have not looked for one in over a year, businessman, philanthropist and Obama advisor Leo Hindery Jr. infers an actual unemployment rate of 18.8 percent. In other words, nearly one in five Americans is unemployed or underemployed. [Salon]

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And you thought the recession was over. Silly!

I know the artistic implications of this famous work of art and I'm still unemployed.

I learned the artistic implications of this famous painting in college and all I have to show for it is this stupid blog.

A weekly round-up of hopeless economy news.

So the Dow exceeded 10,000 today and Wall Street can expect to earn even more than they did in the peak year of 2007, but that is no indication that you should be shredding resumes just yet.

  • According to an analysis of government data by the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for college graduates under 27 so far this year averaged 7.1 percent, nearly double what it was in 2007 and the highest yearly average in the 30 years this data point has been tracked. [NYT]
  • In the U.S., the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to more than 18%, from 13% a year ago. [BusinessWeek]

And what about those of us who are not nubile young things looking for their first job?

  • Now pay cuts, sometimes the result of downgrades in rank or shortened workweeks, are occurring more frequently than at any time since the Great Depression. [NYT]
  • Numerous Americans have lost their jobs twice during the past two years and their ranks are larger than in past recessions, according to career coaches, labor economists, executive recruiters and outplacement counselors. [WSJ]

Happy drinking, everyone!