US Unemployment at Record Highs
More Americans are out of work than at any time since the Great Depression.
As we were going into the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, I predicted it would be worse than 9/11 and the Great Recession combined. I undershot considerably. We reached the death toll of 9/11 less than three weeks later. And the economy is in far, far worse shape than it was in 2009.
Yahoo Finance (“April jobs report: U.S. employers cut a record 20.5 million payrolls, unemployment rate jumps to 14.7%“):
The U.S. economy shed a record 20.5 million payrolls in April and the unemployment rate jumped to 14.7%, as the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses across the country to temporarily shut down and lay off or furlough workers.
Here were the main figures from the U.S. Department of Labor’s report release
*Unemployment rate: 14.7% vs. 16.0% expected and 4.4% in March
*Average hourly earnings month on month: +4.7% vs. +0.4% expected and +0.5% in March
*Average hourly earnings year on year: +7.9% vs. +3.3% expected and +3.3% in March
Estimates for April’s change in non-farm payrolls and unemployment rate each spanned a wide range, as economists grappled with gauging the damage as businesses across the country had to cut jobs at a historic rate.
At 20.5 million, the actual decline in payrolls for the month was by far the worst on record, according to government monthly payrolls data spanning back to 1939. The worst fall in payrolls amid the global financial crisis was by 800,000 in March 2009.
April’s decline follows March’s downwardly revised payrolls drop of 870,000, which captured just the very start of the nationwide lockdowns and business closures, since the Labor Department uses the week of the 12th for its reference period.
The unemployment rate surged to 14.7% in April, representing both the largest one-month jump and highest level on record based on monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data spanning back to 1948. The monthly unemployment rate was estimated to have been about 25% at the peak of the Great Depression in 1933.
So, we’re at the worst unemployment rates since we started keeping records—during the Truman administration. We’re probably not at Great Depresssion numbers yet but frankly a lot of that is a function of so many of us having the ability to work remotely thanks to the wonders of modern technology. (Then again, we have far fewer self-employed agricultural workers, too.)
And the numbers are probably understating the severity of the crisis:
The jobless rate would have been nearly 5 percentage points higher, if workers were classified differently during the survey data collection, the BLS added in a note.
There was “a large increase in the number of workers who were classified as employed but absent from work,” the BLS said. “As was the case in March, special instructions sent to household survey interviewers called for all employed persons absent from work due to coronavirus-related business closures to be classified as unemployed on temporary layoff. However, it is apparent that not all such workers were classified.”
“If the workers who were recorded as employed but absent from work due to ‘other reasons’ (over and above the number absent for other reasons in a typical April) had been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff, the overall unemployment rate would have been almost 5 percentage points higher than reported (on a not seasonally adjusted basis),” it added.
While I was a kid, I vividly remember the long “stagflation” period of the 1970s. We had high unemployment rates compounded by high inflation. Economist Arthur Okun coined the term “Misery Index” for the sum of the two and Jimmy Carter used it to oust Gerald Ford from the White House in 1976. (And Ronald Reagan returned the favor in 1980.)
Thanks to near-zero interest rates from the Fed, inflation has been a non-issue since the mid-1980s. But the current unemployment rate itself in higher than the 12.7% Misery Index that got Carter elected.
In other words, if this economy alone isn’t enough to get rid of the trash in the White House, what will…
And yet the DJIA is up today. (+318 as I write this)
I always miss Doug when the jobs report comes out. 🙁 I hope he is well, wherever he is!
We’re probably not at Great Depresssion numbers yet but frankly a lot of that is a function of so many of us having the ability to work remotely thanks to the wonders of modern technology.
A huge unanswered question is how working remotely will affect commercial real estate rents and all of the instruments used to finance commercial real estate.
@Steven L. Taylor:
I found this article interesting: What the stock market knows
@Kit: And all of that makes sense. It is just an interesting juxtaposition with that “it’s as bad as the Great Depression” when a key Great Depression image is the crash of the stock market. It shows a disjuncture between how workers are doing at the moment versus large corporations and those who own stock, especially lots of it.
@Jax: I thought of him this morning as well for the same reason.
@Steven L. Taylor: @Kit:
The job losses were already known and factored into share prices already. However, unemployment numbers like this make it more likely the Federal Reserve takes additional action to help the economy and another stimulus gets passed, both of which would help the companies whose share prices are used to calculate the indices. Or as Kit’s article said, “Add that to the reasonable expectation that the government will do anything possible to avoid an outright spiral into depression, and maybe the stock market’s relatively upbeat take doesn’t look quite so crazy after all.”
First you need to convince the voters that President Trump should not have followed the advice of the experts, or the “expert” models they derived their advice from.
Then you have to separate the federal guidelines of social distancing, hand washing, no groups larger than 10, with recommended closure of crowd venues, from the state governor actions which went much further to the point of interning the population the state officials considered a threat in many states, under the guise of “shelter-in-place” and suspending even solitary outdoor activity.
I just keep thinking about:
“The buck stops here.”–Truman
“I don’t take responsibility at all.”-Trump
And seriously: he is the chief executive. He is responsible for his decisions and choices (as well as decisions and choices not made). That is how it works.
And I say all of that agreeing that the state of the economy is the result of a complex set of variables.
But let’s not pretend like the guy who said it would all go away and that we had 15 cases headed to zero doesn’t bear some responsibility for where we are.
If only hired math professors who really weren’t qualified to teach college-level math, but I hired them because they were my friends or were sycophants or because I liked their photography skills or whatever and then a huge number of students didn’t learn the math they needed for their physics and computer science degrees, am I not responsible for the outcome even if I didn’t teach those math classes?
Why are you willing to give the freakin’ President of the United States a pass for activities that any middle manager would be fired for?
Out of curiosity, are you able to say that Trump failed to act quickly, decisively and effectively on the coronavirus?
Yes or No?
I mean, seriously, are you able to admit the undeniable truth? I’m trying to judge just how far into the cult you’ve sunk.
I interpret the downvotes as someone unable to logically counter what I wrote in these comments.
I mean, come on.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Was your comment unreserved praise for Cult Leader? No? Then it must be downvoted. It’s the Cult 45 version of Christian ‘witnessing,’ but for cowards.
But he didn’t follow the advice of experts.
We do not have a national testing strategy.
We do not have a national tracing strategy.
He closed the barn door after the horse was out of the stable.
He promoted snake oil cures.
I know you are a sycophant…but even you must be beginning to realize that Trump botched this entire thing…it didn’t have to be like this…all these people didn’t have to die…and all these people didn’t need to lose their jobs.
@Steven L. Taylor: @Michael Reynolds:
When someone reports a fact unfavorable to Trump and it gets downvoted, the downvoting is done by a member of Cult45. It’s the equivalent of screaming “Fake news!”
@Steven L. Taylor:
Remember the Bureau of Labor Statistics report announced today is a estimate of the employment status almost three weeks ago. Comparing the April 12 employment stats with today’s stock market is a bit like apples and oranges; unless your point is that today’s market is reflecting (perhaps) April’s unemployment stats are not as bad as what might have been anticipated.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl: Indeed all around.
@Bob@Youngstown: These are fair points, of course.
I still think it demonstrates a bit of a disconnect between large owners of capital and the broader public.
Plus, the market has been known to react in basically real-time to the release of numbers like these, even if they are a reflection of the near past rather than the now.
Okay, you aren’t going to convince me, nor am I going to convince you. You need to make the argument it is all Trump’s fault to others, who are convincible.
You may be able to convince people to hold a leader responsible for a biological attack out of China (likely more nature than purposeful state action). But most are likely to judge by actions. Travel from China was shutdown quite early to the loud complaint of pretty much all of those who present themselves as an alternative “leader”. Sure, the CDC has been quite ineffective, apparently only prepared for a pandemic in a large middle school, but the plans that failed, the edict that only the CDC could develop a test, all predate the Trump administration. And were presumably the product of career experts. The decisions to not replenish the strategic stockpile also predates Trump. Sure, maybe Trump should have sent his political appointees to audit the whole of the agencies to find their deficiencies, but that is a huge effort, and one the career bureaucrats and their political cronies would have raise holy hell over. And, Trump did have the whole need to cool tensions with North Korea, beat ISIS, get a plan going to get out of the interminable ME conflicts, etc. Oh, and the active efforts by literally top men (and women) at the FBI and some (at least) intelligence agencies to unseat the duly elected president. And as is being revealed more each day, to illegally target senior administration officials. And just when Trump’s full attention was needed, Nancy Pelosi returned from vacay to push the impeachment farce. But then at that time, Dr. Fauci and the experts were telling everyone that the virus wasn’t a threat to the US, when it was likely already here.
But make your argument to the persuadable. I do recommend you prepare to offer counter arguments to some of what I wrote above if you hope for success.
But more importantly, I suggest making an argument of who, other than Donald Trump, has the proven skills to lead a rebuilding of American small business and get employment headed downward.
I rest my case.
@An Interested Party:
a) The Chinese deciding that they need a competent colonial governor.
b) The USA not really having a president anymore.
Travel from China was never shut down. It was restricted but over 40,000 people came from China in Feb an March. Those people should have been tested and quarantine but they were not.
IN the end it didn’t matter because the virus was already here.
And the most virulent strain came from Europe thru New York…so closing the barn door didn’t help at all because the harse was already out of the stable.
Your Dear Leader then dallied for two months.
Even now he is doing everything he possibly can to spread the plague.
You aren’t smart, JKB
@JKB: “But make your argument to the persuadable. I do recommend you prepare to offer counter arguments to some of what I wrote above if you hope for success.”
How many times do we have to type “everything you say is a lie” before you are persuaded?
You are not just a fool, you are essentially a capo, a citizen bringing death and destruction to his fellow citizens by following the orders of the murderers in charge.
When you get the virus, you will lie on your death bed screaming that it’s some black guy’s fault.
@CSK: The disconnect is pretty amazing, isn’t it? “I take no responsibility at all” is exactly right, and they’re all fine with that. Even as they’re being lined up like lambs for slaughter.
This would be the second time you’ve been unable to answer a simple Yes or No question about Trump’s culpability.
No one can convince you because you no longer deal in reality. It’d be like trying to convince a schizophrenic the voices in his head aren’t real.
In TrumpWorld, it’s always someone else’s fault.
One of the most stunning things to me about Trump supporters is that the idea of character seems to have disappeared from their collective consciousness. During the Clinton years character was always a major issue with Republicans. I understand that they can’t make it a concern, because not even JKB would attempt to make an argument for Trump that included character, but the rank hypocrisy still amazes me.
America has two epidemics. The other one is the Trump virus, which is transmitted by personal contact and social media, and even through TV. The Critical Thought Vaccine, developed over millennia, grants complete protection, but many refuse to take it. Symptoms include a preference for large numbers of deaths over admitting a single mistake, misstep, error, or blunder, either by Trump or by anyone who kiss his orange ass or eats his orange sh*t, as well as a propensity to excuse, justify, overlook, or ignore crimes, injustices, depraved acts, or atrocities committed by the same people.
@Michael Reynolds: The funniest thing about you no being able to identify whether I’m a Trumpist is that they’re your favorite subject.
“In TrumpWorld, it’s always someone else’s fault.”
Never forget that Trump has two superpowers, blaming others and taking credit for things he didnt do.
A few months ago, I read an interesting explanation for the Evangelical support for Trump that appeared to forgive or at least overlook his manifold character flaws. It was that they had always put their faith in nice, honorable guys, and the nice, honorable guys were unable to help them, so why not switch to a dirty fighter?
No, the funniest thing is you thinking you get to pose the question, set the rules, and then act as judge of the outcome, with no one able to assess your veracity. Why not just cut to the chase, declare yourself the winner and do a little happy dance?
@Steven L. Taylor: Two slogans that describe the Market help me when I think about this rising DJIA:
Sell on the rumor, buy on the news.
Socialism for the rich, free enterprise for the poor.
@Michael Reynolds: All you have to do is find where I said I support Trump. That’s the condition you set up by saying I was a Trumpist.
And for those people who require convincing, I think that one of the best people that makes that argument is President Reagan.
From MediasTouch @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8811RaS6Qok&feature=youtu.be
That Choice? Anyone, with a pulse, Not Trump.
@95 South: @95 South:
Right. So as long as you didn’t slip up and admit you support Trump, you think you win. Wanna play stupid games, OK, Show me where you proved you didn’t.
I was going to address some of the points in your comment, and then I saw this.
If you think that Trump has a track record of leading and rebuilding, then you are hopelessly deluded.
It is doubly stunning because you are letting him totally off the hook for his mangled management of the current crisis yet have faith he can fix all of this. It is truly breathtaking.
If Trump had the mad management skills his followers claim he must have (because look, he’s rich!) then he blew his moment to shine because he failed to manage any of this.
@Michael Reynolds: I know I’m making up crazy rules like “tell the truth”, but since you called me a Trumpist after I denied it, the burden is on you. There’s no trick to it at all.
@Michael Reynolds: You call me a liar or a fool and you don’t back it up. You won’t even make the effort to research it when I promise to give to charity. You complain about my “games” you while you badger JKB. I’d ignore all of that, at least the part against me, except you have such a tiny world view you can’t even comprehend that someone believes what I do. Try to free your mind.
Well, now J.C. Penney is in trouble. Last week it was Nieman-Marcus. Of course, this is not recent. They have been having problems for years. I am worried about the continued problems in the retail field. It seems the big department stores are having the most problems. The large malls seem to be a thing of the past, but outlet malls seem to be doing well. I am not a fan of buying clothes online. The sizes are not accurate and I want to see the quality in person before I buy. Buying in person is also more enjoyable. On line shopping is as exciting as watching tennis.
I would favor the government helping out the iconic Sears and J.C. Penney. At one time Sears was the most profitable company on earth. I would like to see them make a comeback.
@CSK: “flaws. It was that they had always put their faith in nice, honorable guys, and the nice, honorable guys were unable to help them, so why not switch to a dirty fighter?”.
Except that they are good with liars and conmen, and their last president also screwed the country.
@Tyrell: I certainly agree with you about not buying clothing online. And yes, I too, like to get out of the house.
El PITO is back to predicting SARS-CoV2 is going to go away, even without a vaccine.
All outbreaks burn out. Some take years to do so, some take millions of lives. That’s what happened with the 1918 Influenza pandemic, at around 50 millions lives lost. but it did go away, without a vaccine. That one took over a year to burn out, too.
Why is he so hung up on that? He made an idiotic prediction, based on nothing, and he keeps going back to it.
Because that’s what he does. Remember Charlottesville? His staff forced him to retract the business about “very fine people.” He did, very grudgingly–and then the next day, repeated it.
It could be dementia that makes him latch onto something and cling to it.
I don’t think they view those liars and conmen as liars and conmen, and as for the president–no, he didn’t fight nearly hard enough for them, as they see it.
@Michael Reynolds: Because if he just declares himself the winner, the $50 gift to the Nashville Rescue Mission will simply be an act of kindness instead of the capstone of his dominance over an enemy?
Just speculating here…
You’ve only just noticed this? JC Penney Co was in trouble before I left for Korea in 2007. They’ve been in trouble for about 20 years now. Maybe longer.
ETA: @CSK: I almost always buy clothes online now. I mostly know what sizes to buy and have sources that have reliable sizing. But mostly it because the major department stores where I might buy clothes have all closed in my town and the closest places are now almost 100 miles away. 🙁
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
I can see why you would buy online.
You don’t understand that Boss Tweet may actually be deluded? Look at his combover! He hides from facts every day, and he starts with telling himself he’s still young and good-looking.
@CSK: Doesn’t make sense to me. Clearly, they didn’t support Jimmy Carter who actually is that sweet example of a Baptist from the South trying to live a Christian life. Billy Graham supported Nixon which may have been due to being deceived, but George McGovern was a preacher’s son, decorated veteran, Food for Peace director. It is hard for me to believe that Nixon over McGovern was a hard moral decision.
McGovern was left-wing and antiwar. The latter in particular would have damned him in the eyes of a lot of fundamentalists.
Let’s settle this dispute. Who will you vote for in November?
B. Anybody else.
We await your answer. Thanks in advance, Scott
What people were complaining in January were travel bans from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania, countries that did not had Covid-19. Very few people complained about travel bans from China.
In fact, it’s pretty telling that Trump was worried with travel from Eritrea, not from Covid-19 hotspots.
And travel bans alone wouldn’t make that much of a difference, the main problem were American citizens returning from Italy and from China. Things like temperature checks and mandatory quarantines for citizens returning from these countries could have made a difference.
Even if the Chinese had created the virus from the scratch, saying “Let’s f* these dirty yankees” that does not change that Trump managed the whole situation pretty poorly.
It’s a bit odd that so many people are expressing shock at the unemployment figures. When state governments close down entire industries, massive unemployment may not be the objective but it’s inevitable collateral damage.
Where governments – and business groups – are open to criticism is in the failure to present any kind of coherent vision for where America goes from here, let alone have a plan to get there. Trump and his propagandists seem to think that ‘reopening the economy’ will magically make everything the way it was before, but this is manifest nonsense. As we are cautiously looking to ease special measures in Australia, businesses like restaurants are saying thanks for nothing, operating at half-capacity with tables spread out to ensure physical distancing wouldn’t be profitable. We’ll stay closed. We’re congratulating ourselves (with justification) for having come close to eliminating COVID-19, but big chunks of the economy such as international travel will remain shut until further notice. It’s going to be a long debilitating recovery, but at least the public health aspect has been fixed, so far at least.
It seems to me America is looking at a situation post-June where special government welfare payments start to dry up, many businesses decide they can no longer carry on, millions of workers realize they can’t pay the rent, but thousands of people are keep dying every week. History suggests things could get very ugly very quickly.
I’m surprised they are so low.
Here in the Democratic People’s Republic of Seattle, we’ve been in lock down for months, and a whole lot of people cannot work.
But states like Ohio are encouraging employers to report their workers who don’t feel safe and refuse to come to work, so they can be stripped from the unemployment rolls. That will keep numbers down.
Let’s see if I have the full plan:
– grant employers legal immunity for the spread of covid
– force people back to work
@95 South: When you are trying to answer the difficult question “am I a troll or a commenter with something worth saying,” the first thing to examine is whether the majority of your posts are directed towards the subject at hand or towards yourself and how terribly unfairly you are being treated by other posters.
I hope you find this test illuminating
@Tyrell: “On line shopping is as exciting as watching tennis.”
Says the man who enjoys watching cars drive around a track for five hours.
@Scott O: Not Trump. He’s not morally fit to run the country. Not just anybody else. Not Biden. He’s probably not as bad a person as Trump, but he’s wrong on everything and he’s corrupt. I think I’ll vote third-party or not cast a vote for President.
I’ve said before that I won’t vote for Trump, but Michael won’t believe me.
@Slugger: Evangelicals supported Carter in 1976. He was one of them.
@wr: You’ve made three comments on this thread, one against JKB, one against me, and one against Tryell. Nothing about unemployment.
@JKB: There’s not a shred of fact in there to argue against.
@CSK: “I don’t think they view those liars and conmen as liars and conmen, and as for the president–no, he didn’t fight nearly hard enough for them, as they see it.”
That’s not really an excuse for them.
It is the case that 95 South has stated that he does not support the president. I think we need to take his word on that and move on.
However, I think it is fair to note that yes, many of his opinions come across, whether intended or not, as anti-anti-Trump.
Could we let this one rest?
It wasn’t intended to be an excuse. An explanation, yes.