More tales of woe from the unemployment line

The number of Americans receiving jobless benefits sets a record for the 19th straight week.

By Andrew Leonard
June 11, 2009 5:12PM (UTC)
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The good news is that the fewest Americans filed for unemployment last week since January.

The bad news is that the total number filing was still very high: 601,000.

The confusing news was learning that the total number of people drawing unemployment benefits had set a record for the nineteenth straight week, which was odd, because last week the headline news was that for the first time all year, that number had declined.


None of the news stories I've seen so far this morning explained this discrepancy, but a look back at the Department of Labor's press release for last week tells us that the initial number reported for continuing claims was 6,735,000, which was indeed 15,000 lower than the preceding week's, 6,750,000.

But today's report tells us that last week's number has been revised upward, to 6,757,000, which represented a 7000 increase over the week before, and thus the 18th straight week of rising claims. And this week -- a 59,000 jump, to 6,816,000.

What does this tell us, beside the fact that the labor market is still very, very weak? That maybe people like me should be a little less quick to seek significance from small changes in the numbers.


And with that in mind, we now turn our attention to the auction of thirty year Treasury bonds scheduled for 1:00 Eastern, because whatever appetite is displayed by investors for them will determine the course of our economic future and fate of the universe this afternoon.

Andrew Leonard

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

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Great Recession How The World Works Unemployment U.s. Economy