Displaying items by tag: unemployment
Despite the volatility of the last couple of days, the markets actually got some good economic news today. As usual, the data is not perfect, but directionally, the unemployment numbers suggest the underlying economy is improving. The unemployment rate in August was 8.4%. That marks the first reading under 10% since before the pandemic. The economy added 1.4m jobs overall. The only fly in the ointment is that this is the third straight month that the number of jobs added has been falling, a sign that the recovery could be losing momentum.
FINSUM: The reality is we are not just going to immediately pop back to January 2020’s economy. The fact that well over a million jobs were added in a very tumultuous month is a good indication that the recovery is on track.
Friday saw the release of what appeared to be absolutely stellar jobs numbers. Instead of the jobless rate potentially hitting almost 20%—which was the forecast—the opposite happened: the unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May from over 14% in April. Markets soared. However, the reality is that those numbers are both highly inflated, and unrealistic. Firstly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted those who are currently furloughed and unpaid as “employed”. It admitted that if it hadn’t done so the unemployment rate would have jumped to over 16%. Secondly, the big jump in hiring was at least partly, and probably hugely, because of an artificial government rule in the PPP program. Small businesses had to hire employees back by the end of June to have their loans turn into grants, so there were artificial incentives to put people back on payroll even I the absence of true business demand.
FINSUM: If you take these two facts together, it becomes clear that the May data is not really a reflection of an economic pickup, so don’t make any predictions based on this.
We are headed towards Great Depression like unemployment, yet the market is rallying. What gives? That is a question everyone is asking themselves. We have already far exceeded Great Recession era unemployment levels and are quickly heading higher. Over 20m Americans lost their jobs in April and more than 33m have lost jobs since the start of the pandemic. The unemployment rate is just under 15%, and most analysts think it will get north of 20%, putting it on part with the Great Depression. Mnuchin himself said we may hit 25%.
FINSUM: We do not think the market has ever had to navigate such a difficult situation in recent memory. On the one hand we are dealing with the worst economy in a century. On the other, there is a temporary nature to this downturn (because it is self-imposed) and the government is doing a lot to stimulate the economy.
PPP has been nothing short of a disaster. Big companies gobbled up all the money first, leaving small businesses without the capital they needed to survive. Those big businesses then had the rules changed so that the capital is no longer attractive. By the time that small businesses could really access money, the terms around forgiveness have grown so uncertain that many don’t even want it, according to COVID Loan Tracker, a site that tracks PPP loan disbursement. Now, for those who have already accepted a loan there is a new problem—workers don’t want to be hired back. In many cases workers are getting more on unemployment than they are from being re-hired, and coupled with the fact that many can’t find childcare right now, it makes little economic sense to return to work. This has very bad ramifications for small business owners, as if they cannot rehire their workers, then the forgive-ability of their loans is seriously in question.
FINSUM: This program has been full of mismanagement and unintended consequences, and businesses all over the country are feeling the brunt.
This is a dark day economically. New data is flowing in from many sources, and all of it is pointing to a severe decline in demand that seems ever more likely to push the US into a depression. Unemployment claims came in at another 6.6m this morning, meaning a total of 16.6m Americans have applied in the last three weeks. In other data, fuel and energy demand has fallen so far that it is now at 1960s level. Electricity usage has plummeted on the back of the sharp decline in industrial output.
FINSUM: Let’s do some rough calculations. The US workforce is about 164m people. We started this coronavirus lockdown with just under 4% unemployment, and have since added 16.6m people. By a rough calculation that means we likely have already hit 14% unemployment.