U.S. Jobless Claims on Sub-Recessionary Plateau

May 23, 2008

During previous U.S. recessions, new jobless claims have routinely surpassed 400,000 per week. They averaged 372.25K in the four weeks to May 17th, similar to means of 369.5K in the previous four weeks to April 19th and 374.75K during the four weeks to March 22nd. They may yet build up to a higher level, and the weakness of other key vital signs in the economy such as downward-trending employment may persuade the NBER to claim that the recession began last quarter. But if there is to be a recession, it is virtually certain that the pace of new jobless claims will sustain weekly levels above 400K for some future portion of the downturn.



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