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Friday, April 13, 2012 4:09 AM

Closer Look at Unemployment Claims, Covered Employees, Labor Force

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Reader Tim Wallace supplied an interesting set of graphs and comments on unemployment claims, the labor force, and employees covered by unemployment insurance.

Unemployment Claims Not Seasonally Adjusted

click on any chart for sharper image
Data for the above chart: http://www.ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/claims.asp

Unemployment Benefits

The above chart shows the number of employees that are covered by unemployment benefits. The implication is 11 years of lost jobs almost all of it in the last three years.

The next chart shows that we need to add 17,598,279 to the work force with unemployment benefits coverage just to get back to equivalent coverage of 2001!

Civilian Working Age Population

Data for the above chart: http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cpsatab1.htm

This chart straight from the BLS shows that the number of people of of working age continues to grow. Working age population grew by 28 million since 2001 and 9.4 million since 2008 alone. However, the number of people eligible for benefits is actually 911,000 lower than in 2001.

Percentage of Labor Force Covered by Benefits

The above chart divides the number of people in benefits producing jobs as shown by the Department of Labor report by the number of people in the age appropriate to labor from the BLS report and returns a percentage of people actually participating in a benefits producing job out of that potential labor pool.

From a peak of 59.4% in 2001 we have plummeted down to 52.2% right now in April 2012. And the number is lower than last year, significantly lower than 2010, far lower than 2009, etc. This does not imply an improving labor market but rather clearly demonstrates the continued deterioration of workforce in the USA and probable pressure on those working to provide even greater amounts of their income to those not working.

This 52.2% is a very scary number. It says 47.8% of those of working age are either not working or they are self-employed with no benefits.

The above charts and commentary from Tim Wallace. Thanks Tim!

Given the volatility of weekly claims data, I asked Tim to produce a 6-week moving average of claims vs. the same six week in prior years at the end of the month.

Six weeks should be sufficient to smooth out Easter or Thanksgiving effects, and if not, we can just add another week at such times to cover it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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