Archive for December, 2017

Compared to what?

Some people, starting with the Tweeter-in-Chief, have been celebrating a record low in jobless claims. And, as the graph below shows, this is true.

But complicating the picture is the long decline in the share of the unemployed drawing benefits:

Were the share of the unemployed covered by the system the same as it was in 2000, the current level of unemployment claims (as a percentage of employment) would match that low. If it covered the same share of the unemployed as it did in 1979, today’s level would match 1989’s.

The low level of claims is undoubtedly good news, but any notice of that fact should come with an asterisk.

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