Here It Comes Again (Jobless Claims)

So much for “higher commodity prices won’t do anything.”

In the week ending April 16, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 403,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 416,000. The 4-week moving average was 399,000, an increase of 2,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 396,750.

Still have that “4” handle don’t we? This ought to put a cap on the claims of “job growth”; claims numbers in the low 300,000s are consistent with that, not numbers near or above 400,000.

What’s worse is that extended benefits are now starting to run out “en-masse” across multiple states. The reason for much of this is technical in how eligibility is computed – many have a “x% rate over the 12 or 24 month ago rate”, and now that joblessness has become endemic over an extended period, those extended benefits no longer apply.

The first-week of “hopefulness” is reflected in the “big table” (which is a couple of weeks behind the headline number); don’t expect the “nice” number reported here to be sustainable. It’s not, given the last two week’s reports.

What’s driving this? Commodity prices. At the margin ramps in commodities, especially gasoline, causes a huge problem for consumers and ultimately knocks many in the lower economic strata off the horse. When you’re making $10/hour and it costs you an hour of work to get to and from your job, as is the case for many with less-efficient, older vehicles (all they can afford) living at some distance from their job, there’s a breaking point where you simply can’t afford to go to work any more.

I know what the greenies will say: Move closer to work. That’s a nice sentiment, but you might want to think about how you execute on that when you’re living in a house that’s underwater $30,000 and thus you can’t sell it to make that move.

The vise tightens ever-further on the lowest two quintiles in our economy the longer our idiotic monetary and fiscal policy continues in what has thus far and will ultimately prove to be a futile attempt to cover up the raw insolvency of Wall Street mavens.

The Market-Ticker