Author: David Templeton, CFA, Principal and Portfolio Manager
Today's Department of Labor report on jobless claims (PDF) came in higher than expectations at 373,000 which is a 2,000 increase from the prior week's revised level. Continuing claims were essentially unchanged at 3.3 million. When including the Pandemic Assistance category total unemployment claims equals 14.7 million individual! Far too many individuals remain out of the job market.
Just prior to the pandemic U.S. employment total 153 million individuals in February 2020. At the depths of the pandemic employment fell to 130 million. Last week's nonfarm payroll report showed total employment equaled 146 million, still 7 million short of the pre-pandemic level.
In my Wednesday post covering the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, I highlighted there are 9.2 million job openings. This is more than the gap between the current employment level and the pre-pandemic level as seen in the first chart above. This gap leaves the current employment level at only 95.6% of the February 2020 employment level.
Getting the economy back to its pre-recession employment level is on pace to be one of the slower employment recoveries. Fortunately the pace of the increase in employment appears to be on a trajectory exceeding the slow 2007 recession/recovery. Getting individuals off the sidelines and into a productive job is important for maintaining the growth rate of the economic recovery that is currently unfolding.
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