Employment Numbers: A Moving Target
On Thursday, April 24th, Reuters carried a headline Jobless claims fall unexpectedly that provided an interesting contrast to the story from Friday April 18th entitled Wall St. braces for thousands of pink slips.
From the first article cited above, we get this lede:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. workers filing initial claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell by 33,000 last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday, though the number of workers remaining on jobless benefits continued at a high level.
Yet, the article from Friday April 18th was quite a bit more forboding:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc, Merrill Lynch & Co and Wachovia Corp this week announced 12,400 job cuts, and the number of pink slips is likely to rise as losses mount and the economy works its way out of its malaise.
Job losses will surge well beyond the current level, given that the latest data does not account for widely expected cuts among the 14,000 employees at Bear Stearns Cos following the investment bank's pending takeover by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Global financial institutions have so far sustained well over $200 billion of write-downs and credit-related losses, with the ailing U.S. housing market a central catalyst.
Already, Marenzi expects at least 100,000 job losses at U.S. commercial banks, or companies that lend or collect deposits. That figure could rise to between 150,000 and 200,000 in the next 12 to 18 months, he said.
Without even having to look too closely, however, it's not difficult to determine why the recent report appears to clash with the earlier one: timing.
The article from 18 April talks about the future of the job market as the economy continues to spiral down and institutions post record losses; the article from today discusses the expectations that analysts had leading into the week of April 12 -- the week preceding the April 18 piece.
If these articles were to be placed in reverse order, they would paint an ever-darkening picture of our short and medium term economic and employment outlook.
An Aside to the Bush Administration and Bush Republicans: Yes, Mr. Bush, we are in a slowdown: a severe one. There's a term for it -- it's recession. If it gets much worse before it is addressed responsibly, it could become a worldwide depression. And because of your inability to properly comprehend it and the habit of denial and band-aid approaches that your Administration and the Congressional Republicans have taken in hopes of leaving the burgeoning mess in lap of the next (presumably Democratic) Administration, the problem is likely to get a whole lot worse before anything is done to address it intelligently.
Just like all the other problems that have been exacerbated by your criminal neglect and malfeasance.
For further reference, you may want to check out Tony Wikrent's Euthanize Wall Street to save the economy and GreyHawk's Gouged Out: The Consumer and the Gas Station Operator.