11 May 2020

A Look at Unemployment Rates

The unemployment numbers on Friday weren’t surprising, but they were still shocking. The unemployment rate was 14.7 percent, and although that was better than expected, it’s still the highest reading by a long shot since the inception of this data in 1948.  In fact, the unemployment rate only breached 10 percent in two of the recessions since then. The unemployment rate is an interesting and useful statistic, but it attempts… Read More

20 Apr 2020

Unemployment Today

One of the most jarring aspects of the coronavirus epidemic is the speed and magnitude of job losses.  We now have four weeks’ worth of data, and a shocking 22 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. For reference, the previous record for initial jobless claims over a four- week period was 2,697,00 during the 1982 recession.  During the 2008 financial crisis, the record was 2,637,000, just shy of the… Read More

7 May 2018

Unemployment at 20-Year Lows; Time to Buy?

Market participants and the news media alike are focused on round numbers, whether it’s the hopefully forthcoming Dow 25,000 or the 10-year Treasury crossing three percent last week. Amidst all of the news last week, one round number caught my eye: the unemployment rate crossing below four percent for the first time in nearly 20 years. The chart above shows the unemployment rate, or, more officially U3, for the past… Read More

4 Apr 2016

The Real Unemployment Rate

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that total non-farm payrolls rose by 215,000 in March, lower than February’s upwardly revised 245,000 figure, but ahead of the consensus estimate of 205,000.  January was also revised downward to 168,000 from 172,000. The unemployment rate ticked up from 4.9 percent to 5.0 percent reflecting a large increase in the labor participation rate which increased six-tenths of a percent in the last six… Read More