Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Auto Insurance Price Quotes

If you're recently unemployed, you really need to change your spending to get more inline with your income (i.e. a small severance and tiny unemployment insurance checks)... This means scaling back on the dining out, cutting the cable bill, no more star bucks coffee---And getting new auto-insurance quotes.

Odds are if you're no longer driving to work, your total miles driven will be lowered. Consequently, it's the perfect time to shop around on sites like esurance.com and geico.com to see if you can save money on your car insurance---Look to lower your miles and possibly raise your deductible in order to reduce your premiums.

Unemployment Medical Insurance

If you're recently unemployed, you need to figure out what to do concerning your families health insurance---Odds are pretty good that your employer will take you off their health plan real quick. So you may be asking yourself, "How can unemployed workers get the best health insurance?"

Fortunately, the state of New York has issued several health insurance options for the unemployed. These options include:

    • You have the right to continue your group plan through a COBRA policy. If your group has less than 20 employees, you have a similar right under the NYS continuation of coverage law. You will be required to pay the full cost of the coverage, including any portion your employer formerly paid on your behalf. Your employer should notify you of your right to this coverage upon termination of your employment. If you have not received notice, contact your employer or call this Department for assistance at 1-800-342-3736.

    • The federal stimulus package includes a COBRA premium subsidy for eligible people who were involuntarily terminated. For more information on the federal subsidy, please select this link.
  • Individual Insurance Plans---You may purchase individual health insurance for yourself and your family on a direct payment basis regardless of your health status or income. However, these policies may exclude coverage for certain pre-existing conditions if you have not had health insurance coverage within the past 63 days. It is therefore very important not to wait to purchase this type of policy. Individual direct payment policies are offered by all HMOs in New York State. For a list of the HMOs currently offering these plans in your county and the rates, please select this link, or call 1-800-342-3736.
  • Healthy New York-- Healthy New York program offers discounted coverage to individuals who have lost group coverage because they have lost their job and meet certain criteria, including income limits. To learn more about the eligibility for this program, please visit the site at http://www.healthyny.com, or call 1-866-HEALTHY-NY.
  • Child Health Plus--Child Health Plus is a program run by the NYS Department of Health. The program provides free or low cost health insurance coverage to children under the age of 19 whose families meet the program’s income guidelines. To find out more about the Child Health Plus program and its eligibility criteria, you may call 1-800-698-4543, or visit the Web site at: http://www.nyhealth.gov/nysdoh/chplus/index.htm.

Minimum Wage Goes Up, Teen Employment Goes Down

Economist Casey Mulligan has an interesting blog-post on how the recent increase in the minimum wage rate has measurably reduced the amount of teenagers that have jobs.

Michigan's U-6 Unemployment over 20%

According to mlive the broader level of unemployment in Michigan is over 21%.

For the 12 months from November 2008 to October 2009, Michigan had 21.1% of workers either out of a job, or working part time for economic reasons.

Of Michigan's 83 counties, unemployment ranges from ~6% (Mackinac) to ~25% (Baraga County).

Average Hours Worked Per Week Down to 33 hours per week

Click on Chart for a Bigger Image

The average hours worked per week is hovering around record lows of 33 hrs/week. Data has been kept for the last 45 years, and the above chart is for a seasonally adjusted... The worrying aspect of this data is that if production workers aren't yet working close to 40 hours---they may choose to increase the hours of the existing work force before they start adding new jobs to the payroll or bringing back furloughed staff.

California Has Lost 1 million+ Jobs in this Recession

For the movie buffs out there, you may remember the classic movie "Grapes of Wrath" where people who lost their jobs in the dust-bowl drying up agriculture jobs in the midwest loaded everybody up in the car to head to California---Land of jobs and opportunity---Unfortunately, there weren't plentiful opportunities once they got to the golden state.

If you look at data for our Nation's most populous state, you'll see that for the first time ever it has more than 2.2 million people out of jobs (This doesn't include the likely 1 million more who are working part-time jobs even though they want full time work). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in just a few short years the jobless ranks more than doubled from less than 1 million to greater than 2 million.

One thing to note however, is that from 1976 to 2009---The state of California has seen a huge increase in population and hence a big increase in the size of its labor force. In fact over 33 years, it has increased almost 80% from less than 10 million workers to around 18 million workers.

The unemployment rate is just the # of jobless workers divided by the labor force---As you can see, California is seeing record high unemployment rates of 12.5% as of October 2009.
Click on Charts for Larger Image

What is interesting to note is that from April 2009 to October 2009, the BLS thinks that California's labor force dropped by almost 300,000 workers---If you think cynically and say that those people probably really are still in California and not working---The unemployment rate in October would have been closer to 13.9% in California...

Monday, November 23, 2009

China's Empty City

One interesting thing happens during recessions---government officials have a perverse incentive to "save or create" jobs---even if those jobs don't result anything economical (i.e. Dig a Ditch and then fill it up).

Well the Chinese did this on a grand scale. They built a city for 1 million people in inner mongolia that sits empty---because the existing city (30 miles away) is still vibrant and affordable. Essentially, they wasted capital and jobs on an asset that won't be viable for years to come.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Detroit's Unemployment Rate is ~28%

Click on Chart for a Larger Image

According to statistics released by the state of Michigan and BLS.gov the state of Michigan had an unemployment rate of 15.3% in September 2009, while jobs in Detroit were twice as difficult to find --- as its jobless rate from September 27.9%.

While you might find it comforting that Detroit's unemployment rate dropped from July 2009 to September; you'll be interested to know that during the same time the labor force shrunk by 8,000 people from 391,000 to 383,000. And the number of people employed dropped from 278,000 in July to 276,000 in September----So in other words, the number of jobs is still on the decline---it's just that the work force was declining at a faster rate.

Disappearing Jobs

A hat tip to the the Great Depression of 2006 blog for posting a link to this video graphic that shows the US unemployment by county for the trailing 12 month average from 2007 to the present.

Latoya Egwuekwe is the creator of the multimedia graphic that shows you just how quickly and how broadly that jobs disappeared from the Midwestern, Eastern, Southern and Western parts of the US. And since the graphic shows the rolling 12 month average, you can rest assured that the next 4 - 6 months will be showing even more of the US losing jobs.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jobless Rate Doubles; Fannie & Freddie Delinquencies Septuple

Click on Chart for a Bigger Image

Here is an update of a set of data that I've been paying attention to for the last year. It compares the unemployment rate (Blue Line), the U6 Broader Unemployment Rate (Purple Line, which includes the jobless, and the people working part-time for economic reasons) with the delinquency rate on Fannie Mae (Red Bar) and Freddie Mac (Green Bar) mortgage loans on single family homes.

The picture isn't pleasing---You can see that as broad unemployment rate increased from less than 10% to 17.5% (in October, 2009)---The delinquency rate on home loans for Fannie & Freddie (which are typically Prime Loans) have increased by almost 6 - 8 Fold!

Let me repeat that---In Late 2006 and Early 2007, the prime mortgages were delinquent at merely ~0.5%. Now Freddie Mac has a 3.33% Delinquency Rate (September, 2009) and Fannie has a Delinquency Rate of 4.45%.

People should remember that in 2007, the economy & markets started tanking because sub-prime mortgages started going delinquent... Granted, those loans were going bust a significantly higher rate than the Freddie & Fannie notes---but also remember that Freddie & Fannie loan out significantly more money than what was ever given out to sub-prime borrowers... I don't have the data, but I'd venture to say that in order-of-magnitude--these loan delinquencies could be as bad or worse than the sub-prime crises.
The business cycle always has an ebb-and-flow to it. The unemployment rises quickly during the onset of recessions and jobs are added back at a fraction of the pace from which they were taken away.

If you look at the jobless rate during the last 40 years, there were 6 distinct cycles of increases in the jobless rate and the related improvement in the economy. (1969 to 1973, 1973 to 1979, 1979 to 1989, 1989 to 2000, 2000 to 2007 and 2007 to the present (October 2009).

As you can see below the current Great Recession (Green Line) has taken unemployment to the highest point since the 1980's and it has done so at a faster pace.

Click on Images for a larger image

If you just want to concentrate on the change in the unemployment rate, you can see that this recession (Green Line) has risen from the trough at the fastest rate we have seen.

If this recession is going to have the duration of hard-times seen in the 1980's the peak unemployment rate won't happen for another 11 months (September 2010)... And worse yet, you can see from the chart that it usually takes 5 - 6 YEARS before enough jobs are created to bring the unemployment rate back down to pre-recession levels.
Click on Chart for a Larger Image

Sunday, November 8, 2009

10% Unemployment is worse than what it used to be

Yahoo News has an interesting story about how this month's 10% jobless rate is worse than what it was in the 1980's during the last time America saw a 10% unemployment rate.

  1. Americans are carrying a lot more debt.
  2. People are taking at least 10 more weeks on average to look for work.
  3. Fewer people have health insurance

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jobless Rate at 10.2%; Broader unemployment at 17.5%

Hat tip on the Chart to Jake at econopicdata

The jobless rate for October 2009 spiked to 10.2% and if you include the underemployed, it jumped to 17.5%---That's almost 1 out of every 5 workers is looking for a better job.

The average work week remained at a low of 33 hours a week (Usually employers will start increasing hours worked, before they start hiring new employees)...