Apart from a recent spike owing to auto industry layoffs, new unemployment claims have been declining for several weeks now. This is one of the “green shoots of recovery” frequently cited in the past month-plus.
A slowing in the rate of job loss is all to the good, but it’s less often noted that the number of continuing unemployment claims keeps setting new records each week–16 of them in a row, in fact, as the AP reports this morning. So even if the economy is shedding jobs more slowly, it shows no sign of beginning to reabsorb the millions already displaced. Once you’re out of work, you’re likely to stay that way for a long time.
If the rate of new job losses keeps trending down, eventually the continuing claims numbers will start to decline as well merely as a function of people exhausting their benefits and falling off radar. But that’s hardly good news either.