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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U.S. economic depression of 2008 update: manufacturing orders dropped to lowest levels since 1948.

U.S. depression update, Jan. 2, 2008, found here, at Bloomberg.com:

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) — The decline in U.S. manufacturing deepened in December as demand for such products as cars, appliances and furniture reached the lowest level since at least 1948, signaling further cutbacks in factory jobs and production this year.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 32.4, below economists’ forecasts and the lowest level since 1980, from 36.2 the prior month. Readings less than 50 signal contraction. The group’s new-orders measure reached the lowest level on record and prices slid the most since 1949.

“Every component suggests that the weakness is going to carry over into 2009,” Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, North Carolina, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “There’s just not a whole lot of new business coming in,” and companies will have a “painful adjustment” as consumers shun spending.

Today’s figures underscore that, with private demand collapsing, manufacturers’ best hope for new business this year may be President-elect Barack Obama’s plans for an unprecedented stimulus package. Obama has pledged an investment program in roads, schools and the U.S. energy network akin to the 1950s- era interstate highway construction boom….”

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….”

U.S. jobless ranks zoomed past 10 million last month! Highest in 25 years. :(

“The nation’s jobless ranks zoomed past 10 million last month, the most in a quarter-century, as piles of pink slips shut factory gates and office doors to 240,000 more Americans with the holidays nearing. Politicians and economists agreed on a painful bottom line: It’s only going to get worse….” (read article, click here)