Markets still dogged by unemployment as jobless claims jump

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No matter what the earnings season brings, the job market in the U.S. looks more grim with each passing report.

According to the Labor Department, for the week ended March 28, the number of people collecting state unemployment benefits reached a new record, gaining 95,000 to 5.84 million.

The figures have worsened 12 weeks in a row. The less closely watched first-time claims for state unemployment benefits dipped a seasonally adjusted 20,000 to 654,000 in the week ended April 4.

According toMarketWatch, "The insured unemployment rate -- the proportion of covered workers who are receiving benefits -- rose to 4.4 percent from 4.3 percent, reaching the highest level since April 1983."

Many economists would take the position that housing and consumer spending, two of the major pillars of American GDP growth, cannot recover while unemployment is rising. The figure from the Labor Department could also undermine the results of the stimulus package, which the Administration says should save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next 18 months to two years.

That goal of offsetting layoffs in the private sector is not looking very attainable.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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