Let’s end the Obamaganda right now. The only reason these numbers are falling is because unemployment benefits have run out for millions of people. Therefore, they are no longer counted.
So now we have stats out that say the average number of people seeking unemployment benefits over the past month fell to the lowest level since March 2008, a sign that the job market is healing. It’s not healing, more companies each week are laying people off.
On Thursday the Department of Labor tried whitewashing the facts that weekly applications dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000 in the week ended Dec. 22. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell to a nearly five-year low of 356,750.
A department spokesman said many state unemployment offices were closed Monday and Tuesday and unable to compile complete data. Fourteen states provided estimates and the department estimated the numbers for five additional states.
Weekly applications are a proxy for layoffs. They have mostly fluctuated this year between 360,000 and 390,000. At the same time, employers have added an average of 151,000 jobs a month in the first 11 months of 2012. That’s just enough to slowly reduce the unemployment rate.
Still, unemployment remains high and companies are reluctant to ramp up hiring. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November from 7.9 percent in October mostly because many of the unemployed stopped looking for jobs. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are actively searching for work.
And contributing to the fact that no one is hiring is that neither party can agree on a solution to the “fiscal cliff”. On the other hand, the housing industry supposedly is on the rebound. Companies ordered more long-lasting manufactured goods in November, a sign they are investing more in equipment and software. And Americans spent more in November. Consumer spending drives nearly 70 percent of economic growth.
While a short fall over the cliff won’t push the economy into recession, most economists expect some tax increases to take effect next year. That could slow growth.
A measure of consumer confidence fell to a five-month low this month, a survey released Friday found. And reports show the holiday shopping season was the weakest since 2008, when the country was in a deep recession.