Unemployment up 61% from a year ago, jobless claims at record highest level since records have been kept starting in 1967

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The number of jobless American workers receiving unemployment checks rose to the highest level since the government began keeping records in 1967. A Labor Department spokesman said the number of Americans drawing jobless benefits for a week or longer rose to 4,776,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, the latest data available. The number eclipses the prior mark set in November 1982, when 4,713,000 million Americans drew benefits. Americans who moved to collect their first unemployment checks rose for the third consecutive week, to 588,000, according to a government report released Thursday. The number of Americans filing for unemployment claims has surged by 61% from this time a year ago. The Labor Department said initial filings for state jobless benefits rose by 3,000 for the week ended Jan. 24 from a downwardly revised 585,000 claims filed the prior week. Economists polled by Briefing.com expected the reading to fall to 575,000 claims. Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics, said that initial claims data are a proxy for the trends in gross firings. Mass firings hit a seven-year high in 2008. “The net result of this is soaring unemployment, and we see no chance of this picture changing in the foreseeable future. We expect net job losses of about three million through the first half of this year,” Shepherdson said. The four-week average of new unemployment claims, used to smooth fluctuations in data, grew by 24,250 to 542,500 from the prior week. A year ago, it was at 333,750. Over the previous four weeks, the number of people on unemployment for one week or more increased by 66,500 to an average of 4.63 million a week, the government said. A year ago, it was at 2.70 million.

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Bank of America to cut 30-35,000 jobs, Citigroup to cut 52,000 jobs.

Bloomberg reported this on Thursday, here is an excerpt:

“Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) — Bank of America Corp., the third- largest U.S. bank, said it plans to cut 30,000 to 35,000 positions over the next three years because of its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. and the weak economic environment.

The final number of job cuts won’t be decided until early next year, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said in a statement today. The companies together employ 307,000 people, including about 60,000 at New York-based Merrill Lynch. Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri said the “vast majority” of job cuts will come next year.

All lines of businesses and staff units will be affected, and “as many reductions as possible” will be made through attrition, Bank of America said. The companies have already begun dismissing equity analysts, according to a person briefed on the changes.

“They are saying that even though we’ve got the best efficiency of any large bank holding company, we still have extra costs,” said Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, a market-research firm. “They still have to throw more stuff out of the boat because they have to stay afloat.”

Bank of America is the latest firm to announce a workforce reduction amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Citigroup Inc. is planning to eliminate 52,000 jobs in the next year….”

Citigroup CEO announces bank will eliminate 52,000 jobs over the next year.

Nov. 17 (Originally published by Bloomberg) (Read whole article, click here)Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said the bank will eliminate 52,000 jobs over the next year, twice the target announced last month, as loan losses surge and the economy shrinks.

The reductions, disclosed at a meeting with employees in New York, include 9,100 positions the bank began eliminating in October and about 16,900 announced today. Citigroup will shed a further 26,000 positions through asset sales, 7,900 more than in the previous plan. The total represents 15 percent of Citigroup’s workforce of about 352,000.

Pandit, 51, is accelerating cost cuts after the bank’s stock price plunged 19 percent last week amid concern a global recession will curb new lending just as more home and credit- card loans are becoming delinquent. With bad-loan costs running $4 billion above last year’s levels, profits remain elusive following four straight quarterly losses.

DHL shipping company to cut 9,500 U.S. jobs, focus ‘entirely on international offerings.’

DHL to Cut 9,500 U.S. Jobs

DHL said it would significantly reduce its air and ground operations in the United States and cut 9,500 jobs within the country. It said it would discontinue U.S. domestic-only air and ground products on Jan. 30 to focus entirely on its international offerings. The decision could greatly scale back a possible venture between Deutsche Post‘s DHL and UPS….” (click here to read article).

Chronic pain and depression perpetuate one another, good article from Harvard Mental Health Letter

(This article was first printed in the September 2004 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. For more information or to order, please go to http://www.health.harvard.edu/mental.)The following is an excerpt that sounds very much like my own chronic pain and resulting depression/inability to focus on anything but constant physical pain in my ears mouth and jaw: (Read whole article by clicking  here.)

“…Brain pathways

The convergence of depression and pain is reflected in the circuitry of the nervous system. In the experience of pain, communication between body and brain goes both ways. Normally, the brain diverts signals of physical discomfort so that we can concentrate on the external world. When this shutoff mechanism is impaired, physical sensations, including pain, are more likely to become the center of attention. Brain pathways that handle the reception of pain signals, including the seat of emotions in the limbic region, use some of the same neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of mood, especially serotonin and norepinephrine. When regulation fails, pain is intensified along with sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety. And chronic pain, like chronic depression, can alter the functioning of the nervous system and perpetuate itself.

‘Solitude,’ a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Solitude
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(Click Here to read about this excellent American poet.)

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.