Economic update: No bottom in sight

The jobs and GDP picture gets worse. Silver lining for the U.S? It's not as bad here as in Japan or Russia, yet.

By Andrew Leonard

Published February 26, 2009 3:09PM (EST)

Have sentences such as the following become so routine as to dampen their impact? From the Wall Street Journal:

New U.S. claims for state unemployment benefits unexpectedly jumped last week to a 26-year high while total claims cracked the five million mark for the first time ever, the latest evidence that the already severe recession is deepening as it extends into its second year.

Separately, the Journal also reported that the consensus expectation of economists is that on Friday the government will lower its estimate for fourth quarter 2008 GDP from a 3.8 percent fall to 5.4 percent. And judging by the figures we've seen so far for January and February, the current quarter is unlikely to be any better, and could well be worse. Certainly, unemployment figures for February appear set to at least match January's horrible numbers.

Ah well it could be worse. We could be Russia, where GDP fell 8.8 percent in January, compared to a year ago. Or Japan, where exports fell an incredible 45 percent in January, measured against last year.

Meanwhile, Republican governors, including one of the supposed stars of the GOP, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, are attempting to score points by declining stimulus money aimed at boosting unemployment insurance. Perhaps he forgot that unemployed workers still get to vote?

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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