US Unemployment Update
The past week's unemployment claims came out today, and add another 2.98 million to the pile. This brings total unemployment claims for the past 8 weeks (two months or so) to 36.5 million.
Determining unemployment percentages depends on what data you use. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the employment numbers for the United States in August 2019 as ~157 million (https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat08.htm). Admittedly, that's not March 2020 statistics, but employment numbers would not change all that much in half of a year.
The St. Louis Federal Reserve has a different set of statistics that show 205.5 million Americans employed in March 2020 (https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/LFWA64TTUSM647S). (They show the August 2019 period with employment at 206 million.)
Why the huge difference? I have no idea. But going forward, I'll use both to determine unemployment numbers. Remember that in early March 2020, unemployment was already around 3%.
Using the BLS statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 23.16% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 26.16% unemployment.
Using the St. Louis Fed statistics, we get an unemployment rate of 17.76% for the past 8 weeks. Add on the previous 3% of people unemployed, and you reach 20.76% unemployment.
The peak rate of unemployment during The Great Depression was 24.9%. The peak rate of unemployment during the the Great Recession in 2008 was 10%.
According to BLS statistics, we are already greater than Great Depression unemployment numbers.
According to the St. Louis Fed, we are already more than double Great Recession numbers and only about 4 percentage points away from Great Depression peaks.
The Labor Department last week reported April unemployment for the United states at 14.7%, but this according to their own admission was undercounting the real rates. Be careful of any numbers coming out of the mainstream media or government sources.
Some jobs will definitely come back, but many will not. For example, JC Penny's reported that they are permanently closing 200 of their 850 nationwide stores. Those jobs will not be coming back. There are weekly reports of many cafes, restaurants, and small businesses shuttering their doors for good. Those jobs will not be coming back.
Even for the companies that do not shut down, it may be a long haul before economic activity has picked up enough to bring workers back. In most cases, it will not be a quick recovery.
Hang on for a very rough ride.