Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Everything is bigger in Texas---Even Unemployment

According to the San Antonio Business Journal the number of jobless Texans receiving unemployment insurance benefits has increased by over 160% in the past year.
Last year, there were ~104,000 Texans receiving unemployment benefits. Today there are over 275,000 jobless Texans receiving weekly checks from the unemployment fund.
At the current rate, Texas' nearly $1 billion reserve for unemployment funds will be depleted in October, resulting in the need to borrow money from the federal government to help people out while they search for jobs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Even Executive Search Firms Are Laying Workers Off

According to the Chicago Business Journal the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles has decided to reduce its headcount by another 10% over top of the 11% reduction in workers that occurred in January, 2009.

Other important data from their recent financial results show that their revenue fell by 41% in Q1-2009 and that the number of executive searches confirmed in the quarter fell by 38%! Those two data points just goes to show that there are far fewer job opportunities available in 2009 than what there were in 2008---And the fact that H&S is cutting 10% more jobs means that they aren't seeing signs of conditions improving in the near term---->Clearly this isn't a "green shoot" while you're struggling with your own job search.

Cool new Google Charts plot Unemployment Rates by State or County

Leave it to the engineers at Google to come up with yet another pretty cool thing.

Now if you search google for something like, "unemployment rate in California" or "Unemployment Rate in Cook County, IL" (see below), the first result will be a little thumb-nail of a chart---If you click on that, it goes to a google chart--using public data to chart the unemployment rate.

The tool is very easy to use, and lets you even compare the unemployment by USA, any state, or any US County.

So if you're curious---go to and search for Unemployment Rate in XXXX to see the charts for yourself.

All of Kentucky's 120 Counties saw an increase in unemployment

It's bad enough that Kentucky has the nations 9th worst unemployment rate in the nation (with 9.8% unemployment), but according to The Business Courier of Cincinnati every one of the State's 120 counties saw an increase in the ranks of the jobless in March 2009.
Menifee County had the state's highest rate of unemployment at over 18%.
Since this is a Kentucky related post, just before Derby Weekend---my recommendation is to wager on Pioneer of the Nile (Win), Dunkirk (place), and Chocolate Candy (to Show)---(Also consider Papa Clem)

Florida Declines some Stimulus Money for the Jobless

According to the NY Times Florida legislators refused a bill to collect over $400 million of stimulus cash meant to expand unemployment insurance coverage for the state's jobless.
According to the article, the sunshine state's (whose unemployment insurance fund is expected to run out of money by August) law makers are uncomfortable with some of the strings attached to accepting the money---including the provisions that require unemployment insurance benefits be paid to spouses who have to relocate b/c of their signicant other.

Monday, April 27, 2009

GM Job Cuts

General Motors, which is on the verge of bankruptcy and nearing the restructuring deadline mandated by the Obama Administration announced drastic plans today.

According to a report, GM is going to cut its hourly workforce from 61,000 to 40,000 by 2010. Additionally, GM is going to announce later today that they are going to sunset the Pontiac Brand and attempt to further trim the ranks of their dealer base.

The 21,000 reduction in hourly workers will also lead to more job losses in the white collar job force, the supplier base, and the dealer base, with announcements like this---I see the "green shoots" starting to whither.

Unemployed? Try Garage Sales

A recent Detroit News article has shown me that garage sale postings on Craigslist are up 80% year-on-year.

One of the key drivers for the increase in rummage sale activities is the tough economic times, as people get laid off they find it (slightly) profitable to sell some their belongings---and it also makes sense for the buyers who are trying to make their dollars stretch even further.

Speaking from my own experience, decluttering (via garage sale or giving stuff away to goodwill) is actually very beneficial---I moved from a 3 BR house to a 2 BR condo, and consequently I needed to unload a good amount of stuff---guess what, I don't miss it and in fact I like not having as many idle things around my place.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spain's Unemployment Tops 17%

Sometimes when America Sneezes the rest of the world catches a deadly fever.

CNN has reported that Spain has more than 4 million citizens looking for jobs as the unemployment rate jumped to 17.4% in March 2009.

Spain's previous unemployment rate of ~13.9% was the highest in the European Union, and clearly March's numbers (the unemployment rate and the # of unemployed) are both record worsts for Spain.

Mass Layoffs Reach Record High in March 2009

This report comes from

Employers took 2,933 mass layoff actions in March that resulted in the separation of 299,388 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits filed during the month. Layoff events and initial claims rose to their highest levels on record, with data available back to 1995.

The number of mass layoff events in March increased by 164 from the prior month, while the number of associated initial claims increased by 3,911. Over the year, the number of mass layoff events increased by 1,348, and the number of associated initial claims increased by 137,891.

In March 2009, the manufacturing sector experienced 1,259 mass layoff events, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 155,909 claims. Over the month, mass layoff events in manufacturing increased by 24, and initial claims increased by 3,291. Layoff events in the manufacturing sector reached its highest level on record in March.

During the 16 months from December 2007 through March 2009, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 31,414, and the number of initial claims (seasonally adjusted) was 3,227,201. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research).

These data are from the Mass Layoff Statistics program and are seasonally adjusted. Each mass layoff action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer.
To learn more, see "Mass Layoffs in March 2009," (PDF) (HTML) news release USDL 09-0416.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weekly Jobless Claims on the rise

According to the number of initial jobless claims for the week ending April 18th, 2009 was 640,000 individuals---This is an increase from a revised 613,000 initial jobless claims for the week of April 11, 2009.

Continuing claims reached a record 6.14 million Americans collecting unemployment benefits and looking for jobs.

Many pundits seem to think this report is a good thing because the rate of job loss has steadied, I view it differently, losing more than a half million jobs per week isn't good for those families and it's not good for the economy. And when you couple that information with the stories circulating that GM will shut down all their assembly plants for 9 weeks means that thousands more families of auto-workers and suppliers will biting their nails wondering how safe their jobs are.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Does a high minimum wage increase unemployment?

As Oregon's unemployment rate climbs past 12% in March 2009, some state legislatures are beginning to question whether or not the state's high minimum wage (along with automatic increases in line with inflation), share part of the blame.

Rick Attig of the Oregonian addresses the issue in an interesting report.

There are economists out there that argue that when you raise the price of a good or service (i.e. minimum wage) the demand for the goods & services decline (i.e. rising unemployment rate).

The state legislature recognizing this is interested in passing a bill that would not allow inflationary adjustments to the hourly wage of low income workers whenever the state's unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate.

In a related story, a recent study has shown that raising minimum wage has hindered teenagers' abilities to land a job.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Unemployed Amish Can Now Collect the Unemployment

The LA Times has an interesting story about Amish Communities throughout Indiana are now allowing their people to collect unemployment insurance.
Typically, the Amish don't allow collecting government benefits. However, with the huge economic downturn, and many families in Indiana being let go from manufacturing jobs throughout the Hoosier state, Amish leaders have OK'd the collection of unemployment insurance because the workers have paid into the system.

The Dirty Dozen---These States Have the Highest Unemployment Rate

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics has compiled data by state for March's unemployment rate and there are now 8 states with double digit unemployment.
  1. Michigan -- 12.6%
  2. Oregon -- 12.1%
  3. South Carolina -- 11.4%
  4. California -- 11.2%
  5. North Carolina --10.8%
  6. Rhode Island -- 10.5%
  7. Nevada -- 10.4%
  8. Indiana -- 10.0%

And there states that round out the "Dirty Dozen" of states with the highest unemployment rates are: Kentucky, Ohio, Florida and Tennessee---And while not technically a state the District of Columbia makes this an "unlucky-13 list" with a 9.8% unemployment rate.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

California's Unemployment Rate Tops 11%

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According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate in California for March 2009 rose to 11.2%--Up 0.6 percentage points from upwardly revised February number of 10.6%.

According to the SF Gate the unemployment rate in California is worse than the 1980's recession and only surpassed by the 11.7% rate seen in the 1941 recession (Accurate data during the depression is not available in an apples-to-apples way).

Friday, April 17, 2009

South Carolina has the 3rd worst unemployment rate

According to South Carolina's unemployment rate was 11.4% in March 2009---which (currently) only trails Michigan (12.6%) and Oregon (12.1%).

This is the worst unemployment that SC has seen since 1983.

Morningstar Analysts Discuss the Unemployment Rate

Although this clip is a couple of months old, the analysts at Morningstar do a good job at addressing issues with the unemployment, underemployment and temporary worker situation in the United States.

Illinois' unemployment rate at 9.1% in March 2009

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The State of Illinois has posted a 9.1% unemployment rate for March 2009---This is up a half percentage point from February's 8.6%---And the bls has restated the entire prior 12 months (some up, some down, some the same).

This unemployment rate is worse than the national average (8.5%) and the worst that Illinois has seen about a quarter of a century.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Jersey's Unemployment Rate is 8.3% in March 2009

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Today Bloomberg reported that New Jersey's unemployment rate in March 2009 was 8.3% .

Of Course the bad news is that the number of jobless workers in the Garden State continues to increase, the good news however is (1) New Jersey's unemployment rate is less than the US's unemployment rate and (2) The rate of increase in unemployment in NJ is actually slowing down!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Michigan's Unemployment Rate Leaps to 12.6%

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According to Forbes the state of Michigan continued to see its unemployment rate increase in March 2009, when it reached 12.6%---Up 0.6% from February's 12% unemployment rate.

In a matter of days we will see if Michigan still has the nation's highest unemployment rate... Things are much worse in Michigan than the rest of the USA, where there was 8.5% unemployment in March 2009.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Washington State's Unemployment Rate Tops 9% in March

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According to the unemployment rate in Washington State jumped to 9.2% in March 2009, which is 0.7 percentage points greater than the Nation's average unemployment rate in March (8.5%), and more than double the unemployment rate in Washington State back in January 2008 (4.5%).

Michigan's Unemployment Benefits Extended 7 weeks

According to the Detroit Free Press, unemployed workers from Michigan who are still looking for jobs are getting another 7 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits.

Michigan, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country now has a maximum of 79 weeks of unemployment insurance coverage for those people out-of-work---(I can't tell if this is considered a Tier 3 or Tier 4 extension to Michigan's unemployment program).

In addition to this extension of coverage, earlier this year---the weekly benefit in Michigan increased by $25 as part of the Obama Stimulus, this is a big help--as nearly 1 in 5 Michiganders are looking for full time work.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oregon's Unemployment Rate Doubles in Less Than 1 Year

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The Portland Business Journal reports that Oregon's Unemployment Rate in March 2009 reached 12.1%---Which is more than double the 5.7% unemployment rate seen in Oregon back in March 2008.

As of February, 2009---Oregon had the 3rd worst unemployment rate (behind Michigan and South Carolina)--and the March unemployment statistics by state are just starting to trickle in... And the situation in Oregon is significantly worse than the US average (where unemployment was at 8.5% in March).

Be Sure to Pay Your Income Taxes on Unemployment Income

With just a little more than 48 hours until the April 15th, 2009 deadline for filing your income tax returns (both Federal and State returns), be sure to remember that if you received unemployment insurance benefits in 2008, that income is fully taxable as KHSL TV reminds us.

For most people, they have the option to not have any income tax withheld from their unemployment checks---however, there's a chance that the unemployment income will cause them to have to write a check for back taxes at a time in which they're very stretched to make any extra payments.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kudos to Jay Leno for doing 2 free Shows for Detroit's Jobless

For those of you who haven't heard, Jay Leno agreed to do 2 free shows in metro detroit specifically for the unemployed, underemployed, and forced-to-retire early crowd.

The Detroit News has put together a well written piece about some of the material that Jay joked about to the jobless crowd last night, and just how appreciatative the crowd was.

During Leno's time in Detroit, he has visited with Chysler and GM yesterday and is expected to visit Ford Headquarters prior to doing his second free show tonight.

Dallas Fed Predicts 10% Unemployment Rate

According to this story Richard Fisher, the CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, is predicting that the unemployment rate (which was 8.5% in March 2009) will soar to 10% or beyond during 2009.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Walgreens to provide free care to the unemployed/uninsured

Walgreens has decided to provided free clinical services to the unemployed and to those without health insurance for the rest of 2009, according to yahoo news.

The free services will include tests and minor medical treatments, but the customer would still be responsible to pay for any prescriptions.

According to the article:

The program is expected to last through the end of 2009. Walgreens runs 341
Take Care clinics in 35 markets around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta,
Miami and Cleveland.

Free services will be offered only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walgreens said it will not offer free checkups, vaccinations or other injections because it is focusing on providing services patients might otherwise get at an urgent-care center or even an emergency room.

Patients must present proof they are unemployed, including a federal or state unemployment determination letter and an unemployment check stub. They will have to sign a form at the clinic saying they have lost their jobs and health benefits. If they find a new job or get new health insurance, they will no longer be eligible for free care.

Spouses and children are also eligible for free services if they don't have insurance of their own.

Medical lab operator Quest Diagnostics is participating in the program by offering free tests for step throat and urinary tract infections.

Monday, April 6, 2009

COBRA Subsidy for the unemployed

As you were probably aware from all the news stories a few months ago, part of Obama's economic stimulus plan included language to subsidize 65% of workers COBRA payments if they lost their jobs between September 2008 and 12/31/2009...

However, many people are still struggling to get that 65% subsidy---If you are one those people looking for more affordable health insurance for you and your family, I suggest that you frequently check the Department of Labor's websites dedicated to this topic.

1. The COBRA Subsidy Q&A page
2. The COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 main page.

Indiana's Unemployment Debit Cards Weren't Loaded with funds Today

According to WSBT, thousands of unemployed Hoosiers ran into an issue today if they tried to use their state-issued debit cards (onto which their unemployment insurance benefits are deposited).

According to the report a "computer glitch" resulted in no weekly funds being deposited into the accounts---And people weren't immediately sure when the payments would be credited to the cards... This is a major nuisance for unemployed workers looking for jobs and who may have to pay $1 for each time they check the card's balance (in excess of 1 free check/day) to make sure they can withdrawl funds)---or for some unlucky souls they tried to buy goods and were denied because of the glitch.

Dilbert survives a round of lay-offs
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Freddie & Fannie Delinquency Rates vs Unemployment Rate

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It has been a couple of months since I've compared the serious delinquency rates at Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac with the unemployment rate and (U6) underemployment rate provided from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The news doesn't appear to be getting any better---The Fannie Mae delinquency rates on single family homes have incrased from 2.13% in November, 2008 to 2.77% in January, 2009 (The latest data-point available)---The delinquency rate at Freddie Mac has increased from 1.72% in December, 2008 to 2.13% in February 2009.

Given that the March Unemployment Rate is 8.5% and the U6 unemployment rate (which includes underemployed workers is 15.6%)---I estimate that you'll see Freddie's delinquency rates for March 2009 come in over 2.5% and Fannie's to be north of 3%... Keep in mind most of these mortgages were of significantly higher quality than your run of the mill sub-prime loan, Alt-A loan or Option Arm Loan---Those delinquency rates are significantly higher.

Almost 5 unemployed workers for every open job

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Looking at Data from the, I was able to compare the number of people unemployed (not seasonally adjusted--Shown in Blue) vs the number of job openings (shown in green) from 2000 to the Start of 2009. (The Data for job openings is only available up until January 2009, while the unemployment statistics are available through March, 2009).

I then took the ratio of the number of unemployed workers for every job opening (Right Hand Scale--Red Dashed Line). As you can see, from 2000 to 2007, there were usually between 1.5 to 2.0 unemployed workers for every job opening. As of January, 2009 there were 4.4 unemployed workers for every job opening.

And Given that
  1. the unemployment rate increased almost 1 percentage point from January to March (causing the number of unemployed to grow by 7% in 2 short months).
  2. The number of underemployed people has significantly grown in the last year
  3. Odds are that there are fewer job openings in March, 2009 than in January 2009
  4. Many of the job openings actually shown are probably not being promptly filled

I'd venture to say that there are easily 10+ job seekers for every actual job that needs to be filled... This creates a bad cycle for head-hunters & HR professionals---b/c if job lookers need to be applying to many more jobs to have a chance at being considered---so that means the number of resume's be received and reviewed for any job openings has grown by an order of magnitude since 2 years ago.

Another implication of this is, if every single job opening were filled tomorrow--Unemployment would only drop by ~20%---Meaning the unemployment rate would still be above 6.5%.

Average Hours Worked Each Week Continues to Decline

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Data provided from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the Average Hours worked per week have hit an all time low of 32.2 hours per week (since records started in 1999)---This is down from 34.4 hours in 1999 and the near 34 hours per week prior to the current recession.

While a reduction in hours of just 1 hour per week doesn't sound like much, it is actually pretty significant, because it represents a 3% decline in time at the job---Many companies may find it easier to scale back everyones' hours rather than laying off a substantial chunk of the work-force... Another way to think of it is, that if the hours worked would have been kept constant, then the unemployment rate would likely have been 10% - 11% in March rather than the 8.5% unemployment rate that we've seen.

The Jobs Situation in California Continues to get worse

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As unemployment in California hovers well north of 10% for the second straight month things don't look to be getting any better.

As you can see in the chart, during the last year California's unemployment rate has jumped from 5.7% in February 2008 to 10.5% in February 2009. The unemployment figure for California in March 2009 will be released in a few weeks, but since the U.S.'s unemployment rate jumped by 0.4% in March vs. February, you can certainly speculate that California will probably see an increase of 0.5% in the month bringing its March unemployment rate to around 11%!

Unemployment Rises in all 372 Metropolitan Areas

According to the
Unemployment rates were higher in February than a year earlier in all 372 metropolitan areas, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S.Department of Labor reported today. Fourteen areas recorded joblessrates of at least 15.0 percent, while 20 areas registered rates below 5.0 percent. The national unemployment rate in February was 8.9 per-cent, not seasonally adjusted, up from 5.2 percent a year earlier.

There were over 100 metro areas with unemployment over 10% in February 2009---vs. only 12 areas with double-digit unemployment in February 2008.

Unlike in past recessions, this economic downturn is much closer to the Great Depression and Panic of 1907 in regards to how broad based the job losses have become.

Friday, April 3, 2009

March 2009 Unemployment & Underemployment Chart

The author of economic pic data puts out a monthly chart that compares the unemployment rate to the underemployment rate. Note that this is a double-y-axis chart---But it's very interesting to see that rate-of-change of the two data sets seems to move in lock-step, and neither one has been slowing down yet.

If you enjoy following various tidbits of economic data, definitely add economic pic data to your blogroll.

13.2 million Americans are unemployed---Sets a record

The monthly jobs report just came out and showed an unemployment rate at 8.5% for the United States during March, 2009---This represents 13.2 million Americans out of work---The most jobless Americans since records have been kept in the 1940's (Note: That it's not the highest unemployment rate, because there are lot more workers in the US now than what there were in decades past).

The unemployment rate increased 0.4% from February's 8.1%... While the U-6 Unemployment Rate (Which includes the unemployed and underemployed) increased from 14.8% in February, 2009 to 15.6% in March 2009---The U6 Rate is up significantly from the 9.1% rate seen one year ago in March 2008

The number of people who lost jobs in January, 2009 was revised from below 700,000 to 741,000.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Louisville is sporting a 10% unemployment rate

According to the news & tribune the home of the Kentucky Derby is currently sporting a 10% unemployment rate (As of February 2009).

This rate is up 60 basis points from January's 9.4% unemployment rate in January...

Clearly the big race held on the first weekend in May will be a temporary big bump to the region's economy, but Louisville will need more stimulus to get the employment and jobs situation to improve.

West Virginia Congressman wants drug tests for people collecting unemployment

According to West Virginia state congressman Craig Blair wants people receiving unemployment insurance benefits to pee in a cup and take a drug test in order to receive the weekly checks.

He lays out his case at

According to cnn, "His bill would require random drug testing for any government assistance: welfare, jobless benefits or food stamps.

Someone who failed the drug test would get the benefits and 60 days to clean up. If he failed the next test, he would lose benefits for two years."

Michigan and Arizona have attempted to pass similar legislation in the past, but the measures have failed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Military Recruitment up 40% in Indiana as Economy Sours

This local news video clip shows that as jobs are tougher to find in Indiana, more and more people are looking into joining the Army, Air Force or the Reserves in order to make ends meet.

Many Areas in Illinois are seeing double-digit unemployment

According to the Chicago Tribune the state of Illinois saw unemployment rates rise in every single metro area during the month of February.

In February, the state's unemployment rate was 8.6%---With Rockford, IL having the state's highest rate (14%) followed closely by Kankakee-Bradley (12%) and Danville, IL (11%). Decatur, IL rounds out the Illinois metro areas with double-digit unemployment rates (10%).

Things are the rosiest in the Bloominton-Normal area, where the unemployment rate is 6.4 percent.