Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Jersey Unemployment Rate reaches 10 year high

The unemployment rate in New Jersey climbed to 6.1% in November of 2008. This is the highest rate experienced in the last decade.

Florida's upcoming increase of the minimum wage could raise unemployment

Effective January 1st, 2009 Florida is raising the Minimum wage to $7.19/hour. Economists frequently make the argument that as the cost of labor increases, the demand for labor goes down. Consequently, at the margin, this increase in minimum wage could help drive the rate of unemployment higher.

WCTV has the story here.

Weekly jobless claims data

New Jobless Claims Dropped Last Week; Continuing Claims Rose

WASHINGTON -- New claims for unemployment benefits made a surprisingly large drop last week, the largest in 16 years.

Initial claims for jobless benefits fell by 94,000 to a seasonally adjusted 492,000 in the week ended Dec. 27 from an unrevised 586,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

The number of continuing claims, ...

Connecticut to increase its unemployment tax

Businesses face higher unemployment taxes
By (Associated Press)
The Connecticut Post
updated 5:56 a.m. ET, Tues., Dec. 30, 2008

HARTFORD -- Connecticut officials plan to increase taxes on businesses in 2009 because the state's unemployment fund is paying out more money to jobless workers than it is taking in.

The state Department of Labor anticipates it will assess employers an extra 1.4 percent in unemployment taxes next year. Officials say they need to keep the unemployment fund solvent.

Connecticut's unemployment rate is the highest it's been in 15 years, at 6.6 percent. State unemployment offices are handling about 80,000 claims a week, a 50 percent increase over last year.

The unemployment fund is expected to pay out $690 million and collect $540 million in revenue this fiscal year, said George Wentworth, the Labor Department's director of program policy.

But since the unemployment trust fund has about $465 million in it, officials say there are no immediate concerns about running out of money to pay benefits. The state, however, may have to take out some short-term loans to shore up the fund if current economic trends continue, officials say.

"Right now, it looks like we are OK for the immediate future," Wentworth said.

The unemployment fund has run out of money before, the last time in the early 1990s when the federal government had to bail out the state. The federal government has an unemployment trust fund from which states can borrow, and they can repay the loans within a year without being charged interest.

Michigan and Indiana have already asked for federal loans so they can continue to pay unemployment benefits, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies says 30 other states are at risk of running out of money to pay for unemployment benefits over the next few months.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association is keeping tabs on the state's unemployment fund, said Joseph Brennan, the group's senior vice president for public policy.

"It is always a concern when you are going through an economic downturn," Brennan said.

The CBIA has already warned its 10,000 members to be prepared for higher unemployment taxes in 2009.

The state Labor Department assesses unemployment taxes based on the amount of claims paid to former employees. The rate ranges from 0.5 percent to 5.4 percent of the first $15,000 in wages that a company pays each worker.

The typical company in Connecticut paid 1.7 percent on the first $15,000 of a worker's wages in 2008.

The state can impose an additional tax to keep the unemployment fund solvent. Wentworth said state Labor Commissioner Patricia Mayfield is preparing to impose the maximum 1.4 percent solvency tax on employers in 2009.

Connecticut's maximum unemployment benefit is $519 a week.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

South Carolina's unemployment is running out of money

This article from the Greenville News highlights the troubles that the state of South Carolina is facing with their unemployment insurance fund.

About 77,000 unemployed South Carolinians would be without jobless benefits at the end of the day if the governor and state employment officials don't resolve their standoff about a federal loan.

The unemployment trust fund runs dry Wednesday unless Gov. Mark Sanford requests a $146 million federal loan, but the governor is withholding his approval until the Employment Security Commission agrees to his demands, including an audit by a state agency.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell said the ESC should comply with Sanford's demands including the audit.

Roosevelt T. Halley, executive director of the ESC, said he is willing to be audited by the U.S. Department of Labor because the program uses federal funds and operates under federal guidelines.

He also said he would be willing to have an audit by the Legislative Audit Council if the state Legislature requests it. Although the request must originate in the Legislature, a spokesman for Sanford, Joel Sawyer, said it would send a stronger signal if the governor and the head of the commission signed off on the need.

Last month, South Carolina reported the nation's third-worst unemployment rate at 8.4 percent, and Halley said he could run out of money today to issue unemployment checks. The agency normally writes checks Sunday through Thursday.

Read the rest of the story here

New Jersey's Unemployment Insurance Benefit to Increase in 2009

New Jersey’s maximum weekly unemployment insurance benefit will increase on January 1st, 2009.

The rate is determined annually based on the statewide average weekly wage, which increased by 4.3 percent in 2007.

For new unemployment insurance claims, the maximum weekly rates will increase from $560 to $584.


On a side note: check out for some interesting statistics on New Jersey's sub-prime and alt-a mortgage delinquencies.

Increase in Unemployment by County

Several areas were hit the hardest during the last 4 years as unemployment rates throughout the United States increased. California, Florida, Arizona, Georgia (States with a big housing bubble run-up) are experiencing higher levels of unemployment, as are some of the midwestern states--Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota.

You can expect the unemployment insurance programs in these hard hit states to be stressed for the next few years.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Maximum Unemployment Insurance Benefit by State

Today Business Week published a slide show that shows the Maximum Unemployment Insurance Benefit by state. I decided to show the "Top-10" and "Bottom-10" states, according to Business Week.

*Note---Some States had a range for "Maximum Benefits", but most had a single value. Massachusetts for example was shown as "$600 - $900/week"---I have plotted, the high end of the range. I believe that some states may pay more to people with families than to single workers with no dependents.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Who you going to call? Not the New Mexico Unemployment Claims hotline...

The recent rise of unemployment in Unemployment in New Mexico has caused 2/3rds of callers to get a "Please call back later" message before getting hung-up on.

And for those fortunate few to make it through to a live human being on the other end, they have to wait up to 40 minutes!

Read the story here.

Wisconsin hires more workers to deal with rising rates of unemployment claims

[Bloggers comment, "Unfortunately, the creation of jobs to deal with handling unemployment claims is not going lead to falling unemployment rates any time soon."]

Workers hired to deal with unemployment claims

Associated Press
12:31 PM CST, December 27, 2008

MADISON, Wis. - The state has hired 83 more workers to deal with a surge in unemployment claims.

Department of Workforce Development spokesman Richard Jones says the new short-term workers have already been hired and will boost the group by 20 percent.

Some are agency retirees and will start by January at hourly salaries of between $15 and $17 an hour.

Preliminary state figures show Wisconsin lost 32,400 jobs in November compared with the same month in 2007, falling to 2.87 million, while the unemployment rate shot upward that month.

The workers' salaries are federally funded and will cost about $215,000 a month.

The hiring comes as Gov. Jim Doyle wants to reduce the number of state workers by 700 in response to a $5.4 billion projected state budget shortfall.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Delaware's Unemployment Insurance Fund Declining, but still OK

From the Delmarva media group:

Del. unemployment fund runs low

By Eric Ruth
The News Journal

When times are good, Delawareans have plenty of jobs, the jobs create plenty of tax revenue, and the state's unemployment insurance fund is fat, happy and maybe a little lonely.

But months of economic decline have depleted Delaware's reserves for unemployed workers -- and simultaneously diminished the means of replenishing it. The steady drawdown of cash may eventually demand a remedy that could one day mean higher taxes on employers, or lower benefits for jobless workers.

The state's unemployment insurance fund, while shrinking, is still in better shape than most states', and officials are cautiously optimistic that the economy will turn around before drastic action is needed.

"The economic cycle reversed itself" the last time the fund was declining in 2002-2003, said Tom MacPherson, director of the state Division of Unemployment Insurance. "At some point in time, there will be a rebound."

That's a hope that has been proved wrong here in the past, however. And it's a situation that is occurring with more frequency across the nation as layoffs rise.

Nineteen states have less than the recommended year of reserves to pay benefits, and four states are down to one to three months, according to U.S. Department Labor data. Michigan has run out of money and borrowed from the federal government.

Read the rest of the story here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The 20 States with the highest unemployment rates in November 2008

  1. In November 2008, there were 20 states with unemployment rates greater than 5%. And 9 states (+ the District of Columbia) have unemployment rates greater than the national average. In November 2008, there were 20 states with unemployment rates greater than 5%. And 9 states (+ the District of Columbia) have unemployment rates greater than the national average.

The States with the highest unemployment rates in November were:

Option ARM resets

I have noticed that quite a few people are stumbling upon my blog by googling, "Option ARM resets"... There's no doubt that a wave of resets are coming in 2009 - 2011, and their impact will be felt by everyone who has one---unemployed and employed alike.

I suggest that if you really want to learn more about Option ARMS I suggest you go to:

Friday, December 19, 2008

You know it's bad when the head hunters have to lay-off people

It's a difficult to be a head hunter now a days---So few openings and so many applicants to sift through.

Just yesterday Heidrick & Struggles, one of the world's largest executive search firms, announced that it laying-off 15% of its work-force.

Heidrick & Struggles Announces Plans for Additional Cost Savings as a Result of Current Market Conditions

CHICAGO, Dec. 18, 2008 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSII), the world's premier executive search and leadership consulting firm, today announced that it would take additional measures in early 2009 to improve its cost structure including a global staff headcount reduction of approximately 15 percent. The company is unable to quantify the annual expected savings at this time.

Chief Executive Officer L. Kevin Kelly said, "Cost savings initiatives that we implemented earlier this year had the anticipated positive impact on 2008 results through the third quarter. However, given search confirmations in November that were approximately 20 percent lower than anticipated and deteriorating global market conditions, we are taking appropriate actions to preserve capital and to align expenses. Reductions in headcount are by far the most difficult decisions, but are necessary to position the company for the future."

Kelly added, "There are a number of additional variable costs that we are evaluating as part of our commitment to achieving the highest possible operating margin. But we will also continue to judiciously evaluate opportunities that increase our position of market leadership today and in the future."

South Carolina's Unemployment Rate Statistic of the Day

S.C. unemployment rate rises in November, more jobs shed
From "" staff reports

South Carolina’s unemployment rate rose to 8.4 percent in November, while job losses statewide mounted, according to a report released today.

The rate — now the highest since September 1983 — is expected to continuing rising past 10 percent next year.

The number of jobs excluding farms fell 11,900 between October and November and are down nearly 43,000 from November 2007, the SC. Employment Security Commission said.

The big losses came in leisure and hospitality (down 7,800 jobs between October and November), professional and business services (down 4,200 job) because of cuts by temporary help agencies. and construction (2,500 jobs).

Government was November’s biggest gainer, adding 2,700 jobs as schools hired support staff.

Retailers did add 1,300 workers last month for the holiday season, but “this is far below the number typically hired during this time of year,” the commission said.

Read the rest of the story here

Comparing the unemployment rates of New York City, Chicago, LA, Las Vegas, and Atlanta

So I decided to take a look at the unemployment rate by major metropolitan area for several of the US's big cities---New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Atlanta. It's important to note that since this is at the metro-level (rather than national or state level), the unemployment rates are 'lumpier' --- just as a result of statistical sampling techniques used for each geography.

But in general you can see some trends, LA and Las Vegas have seen the steepest increase in unemployment rate during the last 2 years---followed by Atlanta & Chicago. And the diverse New York City economy seems to be holding in there a little bit better than its peers.

Rhode Island--Small State, Big Unemployment Rate

Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union (in terms of land-mass) has the 2nd highest rate of unemployment in November, 2008---A whopping 9.3%. This is 4.1 percentage points greater than what it was last year.

In November, Rhode Island saw job losses in retail, manufacturing, construction, business services and accommodation and food service sectors. With additional corporate layoffs that came in December, you can expect that the December figure released next month will be higher.

Michigan Unemployment Statistic of the Day

Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. As of November, 2008 Michigan's unemployment rate was 9.6%. That's up from 7.4% unemployment rate in November, 2007.

Unfortunately, with the economic woes being experienced by Chrysler, GM, and Ford and with their sales continuing to decline, I think that the Auto-sector in Michigan could push Michigan to be the first state to have over 10% unemployment in 1 or 2 months.

California Unemployment Statistic of the day

Today the BLS reported that California's Unemployment Rate increased by 20 bps in November 2008 over October 2008. California's unemployment rate now stands at 8.4% and of the 50 states, California lost the 3rd most jobs in November (Behind Florida and North Carolina).

Unemployed StormTrooper

For those of you who are Star Wars fans, here's a mockumentary that follows the life of an unemployed Storm Trooper.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chrysler to idle 46,000 workers

Today Chrysler Corporation announced that it is going to idle all 30 of its North American plants for at least 1 month and some plants will be idled until at least February. This impacts 46,000 workers. With the relative inaction of Washington politicians, there is a chance that Chrysler may have to consider an orderly bankruptcy.

And as the Automaker CEO's have mentioned before, if customers are concerned about a potential bankruptcy, they stop buying cars... You can see from the Detroit Free Press chart below that there is a growing amount of Chrysler inventory in the market place.

Another big issue concerning Chrysler, and possibly General Motors, in the case of "an orderly bankruptcy" is the impact it will have on the auto-dealers. Many people don't realize it, but the thousands of dealers out there are generally unsecured creditors of the Auto Companies. Every month or quarter, the Automakers provide payments to the dealers to cover expenses/revenues surrounding such things as warranty repairs, dealer holdback, and showroom financing---If a bankruptcy occurs and all the creditors start lining up to get their share of payments, I fear that many dealers will not be able to survive based upon the "credit" that they extended to the OEM's.

60 years of unemployment

This Chart from the St. Louis Fed is interesting to look at how the current recession's unemployment rate compares to previous recessions (shown in gray). Currently, it appears to be in line with prior periods of high employment and off the peak experienced in the 1980's.

I find it interesting how the recessions always see a big immediate spike in unemployment and then it takes years from the peak to get the unemployment levels back down. It's also worth noting that this data does not include "discouraged workers" or the "underemployed".

Weekly Jobless Claims

Today the new weekly jobless claims data was published... The figure for new claims was 554,000. Which is 21,000 less than what it was last month. And the number of people who filed for unemployment insurance last week decreased by 47,000 to 4.3million.

You can watch a CNBC video about these statistics here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Unemployment & Underemployed Level

Tonight I decided to look at a broader measure of unemployment over the last 12 months. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that "In November, 2008 The US had 6.7% unemployment, it does not include in that metric those people who are too "Discouraged" about their job prospects and have stopped looking, and it does not include those individuals who are "Underemployed" and working part-time jobs, when they'd rather work a full time job.

If you look at Data for December 2007, there was 7.3mm "Unemployed" and the Unemployment Rate was 5.0%---If you add in the Discouraged and "UnderEmployed" the broader-unemployment jumps to 12.4mm or 8.5%.

If you look at Data for November 2008, there was 10.0mm "Unemployed" and another 8.0mm people who were either "Discouraged" or "Under-employed"---With the reported level of unemployment being 6.7% in November 2008, I calculate that the broader-unemployment in November 2008 is actually closer to 12.1%

Wisconsin Unemployment fund is runny on empty

The Wisconsin Unemployment fund is seeing 40% more claims being filed now vs. one year ago. Currently the fund has only $290 million in reserves and could run dry in February 2009--after which time Wisconsin may need to borrow from the Feds.

You can see a video about the situation here:

If you need more information about Wisconsin's Unemployment Insurance program check out:

Unemployment insurance funds running low

The New York Times has reported that many states are running quite low on the amount reserves that their unemployment trust funds have. In fact, 15 states have fewer than 4 months of reserves remaining, and with unemployment rates rising, and more and more lay-offs being announced each week, there's going to be more states that will be running low on funds.

When a state does run into trouble, they can borrow money from the federal government. But eventually, the state will need to start collecting more unemployment insurance premiums than the money they are paying---so that means eventually raising the UI premiums that employers must pay (or else reducing the unemployment rate).

You can read the entire New York Times article here.

Unemployment Haiku Weekly

Yesterday I came across a really funny cleverly written blog---

Everyone needs a laugh once in a while, and why not let it be a haiku! Check out Matt & Todd's website.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Black Swan

Nassim Taleb was recently on Charlie Rose. For those of you who don't know, he is the author of "The Black Swan, the impact of the highly improbable". Taleb argues that analysts, the market, and investors too frequently discount the possibility of extreme events.

The link below shows the entire video. If you're looking for some of the highlights, watch the beginning of the interview when he explains the grounds for his theory, and at ~15:40 for about 2 minutes.

Alt A and Option ARM resets to trigger next wave of foreclosures

Last night 60 Minutes had a very interesting story about how a second wave of defaults will hit the housing market. The first wave of course, has been the sub-prime loans that have gone bad. The second wave will consist of Alt-A loans and Option-ARM loans.

This potential wave of future resets in Alt-A and Option ARMs, according to Credit Suisse really begins in 2009, ramps up in 2010, and ramps up again in 2011.

These resets, coupled with increasing unemployment rates, in my opinion will continue to hold-down real estate values for the next several years.

I have more mortgage statistics at

Watch CBS Videos Online

Illinois Unemployment Rate Statistic of the day

As you can see in the chart below the unemployment rate for the state of Illinois has jumped by 200bps in the past year to 7.3%.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for the "Chicago-Naperville-Joliet" area was slightly lower than that of the entire state at 6.9% in October-2008.

If you're unemployed in the state of Illinois, you should check out for up-to-date information on how to file for unemployment insurance.

New York unemployment statistics

As of October, 2008 New York State has an unemployment rate of 5.7%. It has taken a zig-zag upwards path to getting there. And with the announced layoffs of Citibank and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch you can be sure that the unemployment rate in New York will continue to trend upwards.

If you are looking to file an unemployment claim in the state of New York, go to to learn more.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Keep Your Health Insurance if you're Unemployed.

The Chicago Tribune has published an article emphasizing the importance of maintaining health insurance while you're unemployed. If you can't afford health insurance for yourself, it may be best to buy health insurance coverage for the rest of the family and stay on COBRA for yourself.

Save for hefty health-insurance costs in the event of unemployment

Many overlook paying for health care while unemployed

Carolyn Bigda Getting started

December 14, 2008

With the unemployment rate rising fast, you may be worried about the future of your paycheck. Another thing to consider: How you'll pay for health insurance.

Most people under 65 obtain health insurance through an employer, according to the latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research Educational Trust, which study health-care policies.

When you lose your job, you may be entitled to keep your coverage for up to 18 months, depending on the size of your firm. But like your paycheck, any subsidy you received for the premium, and employers frequently cover 50 percent or more of the annual cost, goes away.

The full cost of an employer-provided plan can be pricey: On average, the annual premium for an individual policy in 2008 was $4,704, according to the Kaiser/HRET survey. A family plan was $12,680.

Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Unemployment Rate by state

The chart below shows the unemployment rate by state as of October, 2008. There are many areas of weakness including the midwest (Michigan, Ohio, Illinois), the South (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi), and the West (California, Oregon, & Nevada). In my opinion the Midwest has been hit by a large manufacturing slow-down, while the South & West is seeing a cut-back in construction and a slumping housing market.

Does extended Unemployment Insurance increase the Unemployment Rate?

There are several academics, economists, bloggers, and think-tanks out there that believe that the extending the duration of unemployment insurance pay-outs actually increases the the unemployment rate and the average duration of unemployment.

You can read some of their viewpoints at:
The basic point is that if you look at when people tend to find work, there's a big jump up in people finding work near the time when their unemployment insurance is set to expire.

And companies have an incentive to scale back labor expense by lay-offs and then hiring back the workers near the time of expiration of Unemployment benefits as a cheaper way of managing their business during slowing economic times.

Florida's Unemployment Situation

There's some good news and bad news when it comes to the state of Florida's unemployment situation.

First the bad news---The unemployment continues to climb. Reaching 7.0% in the most recent reporting month (October 2008). Undoubtedly, much of the increase in unemployment has came about from the crashing real estate market in the sun-shine state.
Now the Good News: Since the unemployment rate is so high, for those folks affected the length of time which you can collect unemployment has been extended.

Georgia's Initial Jobless Claims and Unemployment Rate Continue to climb higher

Today news comes out of Georgia that Initial jobless claims for November 2008 were 55% higher than what was experienced in November 2007. A total of 74,480 claims were filed last month, vs. 72,627 in October, 2008 and 48,150 in November 2007.

Needless to say, this should cause Georgia's unemployment rate for November, 2008 to be higher than the 7.0% that it had in October, 2008.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weekly jobless claims jump to 26-year high

Weekly jobless claims jump to 26-year high

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits surged to a 26-year high last week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday, as a deepening recession forced employers to cut back on hirings.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits jumped by 58,000, the biggest increase since September 2005, to a seasonally adjusted 573,000 in the week ended December 6 from an upwardly revised 515,000 the previous week. That was the highest print since November 1982, when 612,000 workers submitted new claims for unemployment benefits.

Read the rest of the story here...

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Walker Simon)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan

It looks like Barack will be pulling a calling for expanding government spending on infrastructure to help bring down unemployment and pull the US out of the recession.

Monday, December 8, 2008

DeVry's enrollment climbs

As job prospects continue to decline for many folks and the unemployment rate continues to rise, the education business is booming.

  • The number of new Undergrad students at DeVry is up 20% (Fall 08 vs. Fall 07)
  • The number of total Undergrad students at DeVry is up 17% (Fall 08 vs. Fall 07)
  • The number of online courses being taken is up 25.5% (Nov 08 vs. Nov 07)
In the long run, education is extremely helpful for promoting a growing economy. And when job prospects are reduced, many people obtain higher education.

New Jersey's Unemployment fund is running on empty

Surge in jobless claims taps out New Jersey unemployment fund

by Dunstan McNichol/The Star-Ledger
Monday December 08, 2008, 12:05 AM

A surge in jobless claims has battered the fund that bankrolls unemployment benefits in New Jersey, exhausting all of the $260 million emergency infusion sent five months ago and raising the prospect taxpayers will be asked for more.

An additional subsidy early next year for the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, either from the state or federal government, is not "a definite," Gov. Jon Corzine said in an interview last week. But he added: "We need to be planning."

Read the rest of the story here...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

IOUSA The Movie

If you're unemployed or even if you have a job, I think everybody needs to be saving a significant amount of money not just a "rainy day", but for several "rainy years."

IOUSA was a movie released in 2008, that helps put into perspective the fiscal situation which the United States is in. Net-net, in a few decades the US government isn't going to likely be able to provide all the benefits that they have promised---so be sure to start saving for your own retirement years, and potentially higher taxes in the future.

Recession helps the Army meet its recruiting goals

With unemployment edging higher, the military is having an easier time recruiting new soldiers and retaining the ones they currently have.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Guess What States Search for "unemployment" the most

The website produces an interesting heat map based upon keyword searches on google by state. According to the heat map, the Top 5 states that search for "unemployment" are:
  1. Oregon (Which had a 7.3% unemployment rate in Oct. 2008)
  2. New York (Which had a 5.7% unemployment rate in Oct. 2008)
  3. Nevada (Which had 7.6% unemployment rate in Oct. 2008)
  4. Pennsylvania (Which had a 5.8% unemployment rate in Oct. 2008)
  5. Washington (Which had a 6.3% unemployment rate in Oct. 2008)
With #49 & #50 being North & South Dakota. (Which had 3.3% - 3.4% unemployment rate in Oct. 2008).

The Chart is interesting, but it states the obvious, states with high rates of unemployment (or increasing job losses--like financial jobs in New York) are the "hot zones" in the heat map. States with low rates of unemployment are in the "cold zones"

Unemployment Stat of the day

As you can see in the chart above the 1-month "net change" in employment continues to worsen.

When the figure is below "0" that means jobs were lost vs. the month prior, and we've been losing jobs from January 2008 to the present day, at an increasing rate. It's interesting to note that this coincides to the now declared "December 2007" start of the recession we are now experiencing.

November Jobs Report

The situation continues to worsen. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, another 533,000 people were unemployed in November, 2008 vs. October. And speaking of October, that figured got revised be down even more than what they reported last month.

Another interesting point is that there are 600,000 more people who are out of work but not counted as unemployed, if you compare November 2008 to November 2007. There can be several reasons why they are considered "unemployed", but typically it's things like being discouraged and stopping an active job search or going back to school.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Unemployment in the Depression

Frequently, you will hear folks like Ben Bernanke and Barack Obama say that "2008 is different than the depression because now unemployment is mid-single digits and back in the depression unemployment was 25%."

Well that's a true statement---It fails to note that back during the market crash of 1929, the unemployment rate was single digits. However, that quickly rose for the next 4 years to a high of ~25%, and stayed high for over a decade.

Well I hope that we won't ever again see unemployment north of 20%, I do think that we will see the negative feedback loop continuing as institutions and individuals de-lever and cut back on investment & spending. This will result in fewer jobs and perhaps a multi-year bout of double-digit unemployment.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Unemployment Stat of the Day---ADP unemployment report

Today ADP issued it's employment report for November 2008, and revised numbers for October 2008. The outlook confirms that the labor market continues to weaken.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 8:15 A.M. ET

Nonfarm private employment decreased 250,000 from October to November 2008 on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the ADP National Employment Report®. The estimated change in employment from September to October was revised down from a decrease of 157,000 to a decrease of 179,000. Note that the November ADP Report does not reflect the strike of some 27,000 machinists who returned to work following the resolution in late October of a strike in the aerospace industry.

November’s ADP National Employment Report offers evidence of a labor market that continues to weaken. This month’s employment loss was again driven by the goods-producing sector which declined 158,000 during November, its twenty-fourth consecutive monthly decline. The manufacturing sector marked its twenty-seventh consecutive monthly decline, losing 118,000 jobs. These losses were compounded by an employment decline in the service-providing sector of the economy which fell by 92,000, the second monthly loss in the service-providing sector recorded by the ADP Report since November of 2002.

Read the rest of the report here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Unemployment Statistic of the day---California Unemployment Rate

These Charts show the unemployment rate and total number of unemployed workers in California over the last 30 years. One item that I find interesting is that in the last few cycles increasing unemployment it has taken ~3+ years before it tops-out. That could mean California's unemployment rate could keep climbing until 2010.

California Unemployment surges to 8.2% in October

California unemployment jumps to 8.2%, third-highest in the U.S.

The state's unemployment rate is the highest in 14 years; it rose half a percentage point in October from the month earlier. In the past 12 months, more than 100,000 jobs have been lost.
By Marc Lifsher and Tiffany Hsu
November 22, 2008
Reporting from Los Angeles and Sacramento -- California's unemployment rate soared to a 14-year high in October, hitting 8.2%, and economists predicted that it could rise substantially over the next year and a half.

The state's economy shed 26,400 people from its payroll last month, raising the total number of lost jobs to 101,300 since October 2007, the California Employment Development Department reported Friday.

Read the rest of the story here

Monday, December 1, 2008

Labor Force Statistic of the day

The number of people unemployed for 27+ weeks continues to rise. This chart from shows that as of October, 2008 there are 2.2 million Americans that have been unemployed for more than half a year. We haven't seen that many out of work for so long since 1983.

It's also interesting to note how quickly the cycle spikes up, and how slowly it decays.

Unemployment claims up in Wisconsin

Unemployment claims up in Wisconsin; benefits fund may run empty in 2009

By Patrick Thornton
For the Wausau Daily Herald

New unemployment claims are growing at a rate of 30 percent from last year, and the state likely will run out of money to pay benefits by early next year.

Wisconsin has an estimated $374 million in the unemployment insurance reserve, money used to pay displaced workers who qualify for unemployment benefits. For the first time since 1982, the state will need to borrow money from the federal government to make payments, said Dick Jones, a spokesman for the state Department of Workforce Development.

The fund is supported by money from employers, but there is more money going out in this weak economy, Jones said. During the week of Nov. 17, the state received 17,591 new unemployment claims, up 6,500 from the same week last year.

"We have been consistently saying that the country is in the middle of a major economic crisis, which presents major challenges for all of us," Jones said. "And things may get worse before they get better."

People who qualify for unemployment will continue to receive payments. This week, Gov. Jim Doyle extended the time someone can collect unemployment. The state pays for 26 weeks of unemployment, and the federal government will pay for an additional 20 weeks.

Louis Rozner was laid off in October after 25 years working for the town of Plover. At 55 years old, he worries he is too close to retirement age to be attractive to a potential employer.

"I'm still in shock, a month later," he said. "I'm looking for work, and there's not a lot out there, from what I'm finding."

Sally Cutler, executive director of the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board in Wisconsin Rapids, expects more layoffs after Jan. 1. But she said job loss can be an opportunity.

"For people who weren't working at their full potential, it's a chance to regroup and assess their skills and get some new training to help them get the positions that are out there," she said.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Michigan Unemployment rate surges

The state of Michigan's unemployment rate surged in October to 9.3%. And if there if Congress doesn't lend the Big 3 a helping hand in the coming weeks, you can be sure that figure is definitely going to rise.

story here...

Friday, November 14, 2008

The State of Michigan must raise taxes on employers in the state to keep its unemployment fund solvent.

According to the Detroit Free Press:

IOU raises jobless taxes for 40,000 employers


Hard economic times have caught up to Michigan’s unemployment insurance fund in a big way.

About 40,000 Michigan employers will pay an extra $67.50 per employee in January to help pay off a $472.8-million shortfall in the state unemployment benefits fund.

Read the rest of the article here

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keep your health insurance if you're unemployed

This article from the Dallas Morning News does a good job at stressing the importance of keeping health insurance while you're out of work.

One good idea that it mentions is that if you're still in the open enrollment period for picking your health-care plan--and--you expect layoffs could be coming, you can select a lower-cost health plan, which should lower your COBRA insurance payments should that be the best plan you can get if you are let-go.

Nevertheless, you should contact other health insurance companies to get a health insurance quote and to decide what is best for your family.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

California Unemployment Insurance

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the state's unemployment insurance fund is struggling.

Read the article here.

State unemployment funds running dry

According to this article:

The state of Ohio may see it's unemployment coffers run dry in late 2008.

There are many other states that are running into this issue, and I will try to put up a list. States such as Ohio can borrow money from the feds, but don't be surprised if this will cause employers to pay higher premiums, and unemployment benefits to be reduced in the future.

Unemployment Rate

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just posted seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for October 2008---It's at 6.5% and quickly climbing.

Stay Insured

While you are in between jobs, you should also be sure to stay insured. Your company will offer you COBRA health insurance. You should read all the information they give you about COBRA insurance, know the monthly cost which you will have to pay, and know the date by which you will have to elect to receive (and pay for) coverage.

I have found that it is beneficial to shop around for health insurance. Firms such as Assurant, Cigna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield all offer individual and family plans---Assuming you don't have significant preconditions, these firms will likely offer you a lower price than COBRA, and they offer you the opportunity to raise your deductable to further reduce your monthly premium.

File for unemployment benefits

Each state has slightly different rules regarding Unemployment insurance. This is insurance that your employer paid for and there's a chance you are entitled to receive benefits (even if you received severance).

I am not an expert in the details of each states program, but I suggest you contact them as soon as possible to determine your eligibility and weekly payout amount.

You can find your state's unemployment website here:

It's important to note, in order to continue to receive the unemployment checks you will need to be (1) actively looking for work each week. and (2) contacting the unemployment agency to verify that you were able to work and looking for work.

Your manager just gave you the "heave-ho"

If you haven't done so while you were employed, be sure to get the emails and phone numbers of people who can help you out, or that you want to stay in touch with. This list should include:
  1. Human Resources (in case you have to speak to somebody about COBRA, your 401-k, your W-2's)
  2. Your manager and peers (future employers and placement firms will want to speak to folks who can give you good recommendations)
  3. Suppliers, customers, and other contacts---these contacts can be very useful in building your network, once you start your job search.
Taxes---Often times, you will have to move for the new job before the April 15th tax deadline. It's important that you let your old HR department know where your new address is at. (And if you're receiving severance for several weeks/months, but think it's highly likely that you'll be without a job for sometime after severance stops, you can consider changing your with-holdings before you leave).

Welcome to my blog

With unemployment in the U.S. reaching 6.5% in the most recent month, I wanted to provide a resource to the recently unemployed or the folks feeling bit insecure.

I plan on providing various nuggets of information including:
  • Tips on what to do before you walk out the door
  • Advice on how to handle your first days/weeks of not working
  • Some helpful job-hunt tips
  • and, various statistics about the economy & unemployment rate