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Unemployment Hits 26-Year High of 10.2 Percent in October

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The Department of Labor announced on November 6 that the US lost another 190,000 jobs in October, resulting in the unemployment rate reaching a new peak of 10.2%, a 0.4% increase from the 9.8% September figure, and the highest number of jobless workers in the US in 26 years.

Though many economists last month pointed to “positive signs” in the economy, offering upbeat opinions that the US economy had “bottomed,” and that a “recovery” was underway, the new jobless figures underscore the fundamental weakness in the economy, and remain a cause for concern as consumer confidence, a prime source of economic well-being, remains weak.

Despite the grim job numbers, many experts remain optimistic about the prospects for recovery, citing a slowing in the rate of growth of joblessness nationwide as evidence of a nascent, if glacial, recovery. The New York Times cited Allen L. Sinai, the founder of research firm Decision Economics, as noting: “There’s no doubt that the slashing and burning of jobs has abated quite a lot. The economy is recovering, but it is a very soft recovery.” According to the Labor Department, new jobless claims fell to 512,000 last week, the lowest level in 10 months.

In anticipation of the negative numbers, Congress reacted swiftly on Thursday, voting to extend jobless benefits to provide up to 14 weeks of additional assistance to unemployed people who have exhausted their state and federal benefits, and up to 20 additional weeks to those in states with unemployment rates exceeding 8.5 percent, according to the Times. Congress' action comes just in the nick of time for the 600,000 jobless workers whose benefits stopped in October. The new legislation boosts maximum combined state and federal unemployment benefits to a longest-ever period of 99 weeks.

In predicting whether or not a recovery is underway, the initial claims rate is a key number, closely watched by economists as a bellwether indicator. Experts agree the rate must fall below 400,000 to signal a reversal in the job market.

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • 27# Dave you’re absolutely right. Fox News reported that no jobs worth mentioning in the tech or manufacturing sectors have ever been exported until Obama took office.

    …I don’t know how I could’ve missed that??????

  • Steve, Coventry, Connecticut

    Looks like that stimulus is REALLY working out, huh? Obama said if it was passed unemployment would not exceed 8%. He is so full of it!!! Obama thrives on people needy to the government…all he is going to do now is keep this unemployment status as a balancing act so people continue to NEED him.

  • And exactly who is ofshoring those jobs?

    Anyone with a lick of sense given the likely results of Obama’s economic destruction program.


  • Well it IS Friday B, Rush is oblivious on oxi for the rest of the weekend by now!

  • News Flash!! World Net Daily beat Rush to the punch. Their #1 headline claims that Nadal Malik Hasan, the alleged Ft. Hood shooter was an “adviser” to the Obama transition team. I knew some right wingnuts would do it, I just assumed that it would be Rush. Kudos! World Net Daily wins the prize!


  • zingzing

    i just liked the symmetry.

  • zing, you silly rabbit. you know AC doesn’t use facts.

  • Zing, he’s not done ranting about shout outs yet. He doesn’t care about dead soldiers or unemployment because he can’t defend the mess Reagan got us into, but a president giving out a shoutout to and indian????? that’s near treason in his book…

    which goes to showing his thought processes

  • zingzing

    archie, have you looked at the national debt under reagan’s watch? he wasn’t… exactly… what… well, you just look at it. after a good 45 years of going down, it shoots up at a 45 degree angle…

  • We leftists blamed everything on Bush. And while everything was, in fact, his fault, I guess turnabout is fair play. :*,

  • I see that a South Korean woman was in the news today having passed her driving test at the 950th attempt.

    No doubt we will be told that it was Obama’s fault that she failed the other 949 times, and that it’s no coincidence that she finally achieved a passing grade only days after an election in which Republicans made gains.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    You are aware that the ’26-year low’ refers to the unemployment rate after Reagan had been in office for 2 years already, right?

    And you are also aware that the recession that Obama inherited is significantly worse than the one that BEGAN under Reagan in 1982, right?

    Without history, we would not know how good we have it now.

  • Clavos

    Thank you for noticing, Gents.

    Full disclosure:

    My tongue is severely lacerated from biting it as I wrote the piece…:-)

  • BTW – It is true that Clavos made no accusations. He just reported the data. Sorta like a newscast. Woah! So that’s what a “newscast” is like. I kinda like it.


  • If not Dave, then Rush. Rush is probably putting together just how yesterday’s and today’s shootings are Obama’s fault – that it’s all just part and parcel to Obama’s left wing socialist agenda. :}


  • You mean Honest Dave? Surely not?!??


  • It was meant as an add-on to Handy’s #4, and as an afterthought as a premptive from a certain conservative that was sure to blame the whole thing on Obama out of hand.

  • Mark

    The recession will end, and jobs will be the last thing to recover. This is always the pattern…

    I see no reason to think that the underlying problem of recession and over-expansion is inherently unsolvable and that we must accept the dislocations and suffering that the roller coaster causes. Just might take some structural changes.

    Thus, for example, think about the differences in the self-interested actions of corporations if workers were expected to perform the duties of the boards of directors as part of their jobs. It is likely that the motivation of maximizing profit and such things as offshoring jobs would not be viewed in quite the same way. This is a route advocated by some of the neo-marxists. I imagine that other ‘fulcrum points’ for change could be identified.

  • Jet, I note that this is filed as a Newsflash, and that Clavos duly made no value judgment one way or the other about who is to blame for the current jobless totals.

    Are you making a preemptive strike?

  • Two fingers of bourbon should help Handy

  • Clavos: “I agree, Handy.”

    I have to go lie down a while, lest I faint from sheer shock…

  • And exactly who is ofshoring those jobs?

  • Clavos

    I tend to think that recessions more or less just have to work themselves out. Government policies can help some people wait out this process with somewhat less pain. Rightist and leftist policies may both be effective — but mostly at the margins. And each set of policies has its own set of side effects, good and bad.

    The recession will end, and jobs will be the last thing to recover. This is always the pattern, but a lot of people seem to be ignorant of it or to conveniently forget it.

    I agree, handy. Partisan “remedies” and political posturing rarely have more than a marginal effect on the economy, particularly in terms of recovery.

    There is one added element to the unemployment picture today that was not present during the Reagan era, however: the offshoring of jobs.

    It will be interesting to see how long and to what extent that trend continues, and what, if anything, the net effect will be on the domestic unemployment picture in the end.

  • Let’s also add that 1983s financial/job crisis began two years into Reagan’s term and that Obama inherited the problem after it was a year old from the Bush administration.

  • Handy you should know better than to confuse Clavos with facts

  • In 1983, the last time unemployment was this high, Reagan was president. And his approval numbers went down as joblessness went up: he fell as low as 40-42% approval.

    When employment did recover the following year, Reagan went on to a landslide reelection.

    Obama’s current approval rating is about 10 points higher than Reagan’s was in 1983. It’s likely to slip somewhat every month the jobs picture fails to improve — just as happened with Reagan.

    Some on the right prefer to view all this ideologically. They say: Reagan’s right-wing policies eventually took hold and turned the economy around. Obama’s liberal policies are doomed to failure.

    I tend to think that recessions more or less just have to work themselves out. Government policies can help some people wait out this process with somewhat less pain. Rightist and leftist policies may both be effective — but mostly at the margins. And each set of policies has its own set of side effects, good and bad.

    The recession will end, and jobs will be the last thing to recover. This is always the pattern, but a lot of people seem to be ignorant of it or to conveniently forget it.

  • Oops, all those unemployed!

  • I think California is at 12.2%. I think all unemployment should demand a “bail out”.

  • Clav,

    Basically, it sucks. There is perhaps nothing more emasculating than being unemployed and going through the hellish process of finding another job.

    They often talk of approaching the job market as if it were a full time job. I understand the logic of that, but it is an effort which is emotionally a very difficult thing to maintain. Once most people go through the application and interview process a few times, it’s like each rejection becomes another anchor tied to one’s waist.

    I don’t know how many times I’d been told what a great prospect I was, and that I was “their guy” only to never hear from them again.

    I was out of work when I had just turned 30. I did an interview in which the fellow informed me that I was “over the hill” – in his mind virtually unemployable. That was a moment when I did wish I had a gun.

    I know that a lot of this economic mess is political. While I think there is plenty of blame to go around, pointing fingers as some are doing doesn’t get anyone a job.

    I do believe that things are turning around, but as you say – glacially. Some are predicting the rate to go as high as 12%. I hope not. Tensions and emotions are running high pretty much everywhere in the country. If things don’t get better soon, it could get ugly.