Unemployment Picture Remains Ugly

June 30, 2011

Editor's Note: As the month of June comes to a close, the unemployment picture in the United States is still bleak at best. A news story from Reuters indicates that this week marks the 12th straight week that jobless claims were above "normal" or stable levels. We are not surprised by the unemployment levels, and in fact, we believe that the numbers are much higher than the government reports. We expect unemployment to remain high as economic conditions continue to worsen for the nation. 

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Reuters – The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits barely fell last week, a government report showed on Thursday, suggesting the labor market was struggling to regain momentum.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped just 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 428,000, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims dropping to 420,000. The prior week's figure was unrevised at 429,000.

It was the 12th straight week that claims have been above 400,000, a level that is usually associated with a stable labor market. Employment stumbled badly in May, with employers adding just 54,000 jobs—the fewest in eight months.

"Payroll growth is going to be more like last month's rather than first three months of the year," said Troy Davig, senior U.S. economist at Barclays Capital in New York.

Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have increased 90,000 this month, according to a Reuters survey, with the unemployment rate edging down to 9.0 percent. The employment report for June will be released on July 8.

A Labor Department official said one state was estimated, noting there was nothing unusual in the state-level details.

The continued elevation of claims could raise concerns that the economic soft patch in the first half of the year could linger. The economy has been slammed by bad weather, high gasoline prices and supply chain disruptions after the March earthquake in Japan.

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