20.7 million people collected unemployment in 2009

While digging around in the very statistically noisy initial weekly unemployment claims, which usually generate a whole lot of headline buzz and a warm fuzzy, but do not capture the real state of unemployment....

I came across this AP headline, 20 million-plus collect unemployment checks in '09.

Is your mouth dropping? Mine is. There are only 307 million people in the United States. Of that population the working population is roughly estimated to be about 150 million workers, which includes illegal labor. So, roughly 13% of the entire labor force collected unemployment in 2009. Bear in mind only about 48% of people who work qualify for unemployment benefits.

Back to new initial claims. The number this week was 432,000 which is a trend at this point, a drop from a peak. That's good but what we really need is strong job creation.

So, how many fell off the unemployment rolls and onto emergency unemployment assistance? It's high, 191,669 this week.

States reported 4,448,914 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending Dec. 12, an increase of 191,669 from the prior week.

Also, while the DOL claims there isn't anything abby normal this week, one must note the snow storm which shut down the Eastern Seaboard, so once again, these weekly reports can be loaded with statistical noise, are almost always revised and it's better to look at a few months of data or at least the monthly unemployment reports to obtain a better view on what's happening.

Here's the bottom line:

Fifteen million Americans are out of work, an increase of 3.8 million since the start of 2009. There are six unemployed people, on average, for each available job. And the so-called underemployment rate, counting part-time workers who want full-time jobs and laid-off workers who have given up their job hunt, stands at 17.2 percent.

So, while it does appear a trend line in initial firings is finally dropping, I cannot claim a trend line in job creation at all and obviously we need a hell of a lot of jobs!

Did I mention that China alone accounts for 1.4 million lost jobs. As I recall NAFTA was estimated at 3 million and offshore outsourcing has been roughly estimated that 40 million jobs are offshorable.

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