Why Aren't Unemployment Claims Rising More Rapidly?

Friday, February 08, 2008 | 06:37 AM

I'm running around this morning, so  more in depth posts will have to wait until later.

Meanwhile, this article is rather intriguing:

"The increase in U.S. unemployment that's jeopardizing economic growth is being driven by a drop in the number of people working for themselves, government figures indicate.

Hours worked by the self-employed dropped at a 15.5 percent annual pace in the last three months of 2007, the biggest decrease in 15 years, according to data provided to Bloomberg News today by the Labor Department.

The decline "is probably related to the housing downturn, since one in six workers in construction is self-employed, twice the average for all industries,'' said Patrick Newport, an economist at Global Insight, a Lexington, Massachusetts, forecasting firm.

The figures may be another indication of how the deepest real-estate slump in a quarter century is filtering through the economic statistics. The Labor Department said today that worker productivity grew more than forecast last quarter as hours for all employees, including those who work for themselves, fell at a 1.5 percent pace, the most in five years...

...Self-employment may also help explain why first-time applications for jobless benefits have yet to reach levels normally associated with a weakening labor market. A four-week moving average of claims has ranged from 306,000 to 345,000 since July. Most economists believe it takes readings in excess of 350,000 to indicate an increase in firings."

So much for the eBay economy . . .


U.S. Job-Market Weakening Is Led by Self-Employed, Data Shows    
Carlos Torres
Bloomberg, Feb. 6 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008 | 06:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (53) | TrackBack (0)
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None of this should come as any surprise. The economists have just been blind to the effect the structural changes in the labor economy over the last eight years would play out in the numbers they would be relying on. Just wait until the commercial real estate projects still underway and close to completion finish and all of the specialty contractors used in those projects can't find any more work. Those are all of those guys driving flashy pickup trucks with the logos of their companies on the side. I suspect the truck makers will be surprised to find 2008 (and likely 2009 and 2010 too) not too good as well.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan | Feb 8, 2008 6:55:11 AM

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