MORE TROUBLE IN THE WEEKLY JOBLESS NUMBERS

The Labor Department brings more bad news this morning. The short summary: new filings for unemployment benefits rose again last week, as did the rolls of those previously collecting jobless benefits.
As our first chart below reminds, the trend in jobless claims continues to deteriorate, which is to say that the population of the unemployed is still expanding. Last week new filings rose to 455,000, the highest since 2002.

The news isn’t any better for the ranks of the formerly employed who continue collecting unemployment checks. As the second graph below illustrates, continuing jobless claims jumped again for the week through July 26 to 3.311 million, an elevation that hasn’t been seen since 2003.

The two trends are hardly surprising, given the broader perspective on the weakening economy, as we discussed yesterday. Expected or not, today’s news for the job market will provide another jolt of bearish realism to those who think that a rebound from recent ills is imminent.
The economic weakening will get better before it gets worse, in other words. That doesn’t mean the pain will get materially worse, although no one should rule out the possibility. But the general trend, at least, is clear. Only the duration and magnitude are in question.

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