A Word About the Chaos in the Unemployment Data: Week 12 of the U.S. Labor Market Collapse

No one was prepared for a collapse like this. The data are all over the place. Two government agencies differ by 9 million unemployed. The jobs crisis bottomed in May. But “over 30 million” people remain without work. Making sense of the chaos.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Even Fed chairman Jerome Powell, in his FOMC-meeting news conference yesterday, expressed his bafflement with the chaos in the unemployment data being reported by two government agencies that differ by give-or-take 9 million unemployed, which is huge:

  • The Department of Labor reported this morning that 29.5 million people were receiving state or federal unemployment insurance benefits (not seasonally adjusted).
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last Friday in a shock-and-awe data set that only 21 million people were unemployed based on household surveys, though it acknowledged a shock-and-awe systematic error and that without this error, it would have reported 25 million as unemployed.

These are huge differences! I believe the main issue isn’t political meddling but that this collapse of the labor market was so massive and so fast with such huge numbers under such extraordinary circumstances, that the normal procedures for tracking unemployment essentially malfunctioned.

This includes seasonal adjustments that went haywire under those conditions, and I have switched to reporting not-seasonally adjusted numbers to dodge those pitfalls.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported the data last Friday, tracks unemployment via household surveys. It pointed out that those surveys could not be conducted as usual because of the pandemic. Plus, there was chaos over the category of “temporarily unemployed” due to the shutdown. These people should have been counted as “unemployed,” but were misclassified as “absent” from work for “other reasons,” and were not counted as unemployed. As a result, only 21 million people were categorized as unemployed, while according to the BLS, about 25 million people should have been counted as unemployed. You had to read way down into the report to get this.

The Department of Labor reported unemployment insurance claims this morning, based on data submitted by state unemployment offices. These state unemployment offices had a hard time over the past two months catching up with the tsunami of claims that suddenly came out of nowhere.

Then there was the CARES Act, which provided gig workers for the first time with federal unemployment insurance. This Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) is administered by the state unemployment offices, but they were not set up to process these PUA claims. Some scrambled to get it done, and others sank into chaos. As of today’s report, about 18 states are still not able to process PUA claims, including Florida.

These PUA claims are already huge: As of today, nearly 10 million gig workers receive benefits under it – one third of total unemployment insurance beneficiaries!

So it boils down to this:

State programs: The Department of Labor reported this morning that 1.537 million new unemployment claims, not seasonally adjusted, were filed under state programs in the week ended June 6. This was down a tad from the new claims in the prior week (1.6 million), but was still over twice the magnitude during the peaks of the prior unemployment crises in 1982 and 2009.

But many people returned to work, as restaurants, bars, retailers and other businesses re-opened. And so the number of people continuing to receive state unemployment insurance ticked down a tad to 18.92 million, not seasonally adjusted (from 19.29 million in the prior week).

Federal programs: the DOL also reported this morning that 705,676 new claims, not seasonally adjusted, were filed under the PUA program in the week ended June 6. But some gig workers got their work back and stopped claiming benefits. And the total number of gig workers continuing to receive unemployment benefits under the PUA program declined to 9.71 million.

There are other federal unemployment programs, including the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (518,942 insured unemployed), Federal Employees (15,269 insured unemployed), and Newly discharged veterans (11,866 insured unemployed).

State & federal combined: In total, 29.5 million people (not seasonally adjusted) continue to receive unemployment insurance under all state and federal programs combined. This is down from 30.17 million last week, indicating that despite a flood of new claims, more people are getting their jobs back than new people enter into the system.

The stacked chart below shows that the surge of the total number of insured unemployed under federal programs (red) and state programs (blue) combined peaked two weeks ago at 31.0 million and ticked down last week and this week, but remained catastrophically high at 29.5 million:

This total of 29.5 million of insured unemployed still understates by some amount the total number of people eligible to receive unemployment insurance because some of the PUA claims have not been processed.

And it understates by some number the total number of people who have lost work because some people who lost work don’t qualify for either state or federal benefits (not long enough on the job, etc.); and while they’re excluded from the claims data and don’t receive UI benefits, they’re still without work.

So there are three points I want to conclude with:

This unemployment crisis appears to have bottomed out in May. While many more people are still losing their jobs, and will continue to lose their jobs, others are being rehired, and the net total in terms of numbers of UI beneficiaries is now declining. This is the second week in a row that we have seen this overall decline.

It’s even worse than it looks. The total number of people who have lost their work – employees and gig workers – and who are still out of work must be above the 29.5 million insured unemployed because many people don’t qualify for any benefits. I don’t know where this final number is, but it is likely well above 30 million.

Until the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Friday’s report) gets its house in order and gets the chaos under control, the least inaccurate reflection of the unemployment crisis is the combined total of continued state and federal UI claims – the 29.5 million – with some number added for people who don’t qualify for either.

So when we say that “over 30 million people” have lost their work and are still out of work, we’re in reasonable territory – and this is at least 10 million unemployed higher than the market-moving shock-and-awe-nonsense from the Bureau of Labor Statistics last Friday.

Shares of Delta Airlines go to heck after the mother of all revenue-warnings, plunge 20% in two days, including 7% after hours. Delta’s disclosure confirms Buffett’s decision to dump his airlines in mid-crash. ReadThe Chilling Things Delta Said about the Airline Business, the 90% Collapse in Q2 Revenues, and Why Some Demand Destruction May Be “Permanent”

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  80 comments for “A Word About the Chaos in the Unemployment Data: Week 12 of the U.S. Labor Market Collapse

  1. DawnsEarlyLight says:

    Great article, not that I would trust one point from the Bureau of Lies and Scams. Let us hope (pray) for the best!

  2. andy says:

    Once the gov figures out how to count the number of its agencies we may start seeing the nunbers that are less obviously manipulated.
    Even the central bank governors may finally see the bubbles they’re blowing up again and again.
    Yes, never gonna happen.

  3. Shiloh1 says:

    Know people going back to end of last year to the present offered and taking early retirements and separation packages, which at the time seemed to be a good bet, or would have been conventionally axed later anyway. None quite ready to sail into the true retirement sunset nor were the deals enough to get them there or to social security ( < 62 years old), and have been seeking work elsewhere. Such cases would not be eligible for any form of unemployment, therefore not counted in the unemployment stats, correct Wolf? Thx.

    • rhodium says:

      They would be in the household survey (which is just an estimate) if they were called and said they were actively looking for work. Although, if you’re outside of the labor force age range maybe they exclude you. I don’t know anyone who has ever been contacted for this survey so for all I know they just make up the numbers for the most part.

  4. andy says:

    Hussman turned agnostic on stocks couple of days ago, when Nasdaq hit 10K. Other perma bears I follow declared bull is back. I in turn quickly doubled my puts. Not regretting today.

    • David says:

      I thought the same reading Hussman. When the last bear turns bullish…

      • Wally says:

        Love Wolf but he still believes in the honesty of humans ( no political manipulation in the numbers ). Someday he will grow up and we will all be wiser for it.

      • Implicit says:

        It’s funny how time can correct inflated systems running 3 standard deviations out of wack. Still have 2 more to go :>{)

  5. Endeavor says:

    Anecdotal evidence. Never seen so many people buying lumber and home repair materials as this. These stores seem to be out of a lot of inventory. Just like paying down your credit cards, perhaps Americans are planning for the homesteads to be in shape for the long haul. Preventative maintenance is a sign of a thrifty mindset in a person expecting less income in the future.

    • Kurtismayfield says:

      A lot of time at home equals more home maintenance projects. I tackled a reflooring that I would have waited for if it wasn’t for all the time at home.

    • MiTurn says:

      And, perhaps, resigned to not selling and moving. Been a lot of news how people want to move to smaller towns or the suburbs. Homeowners gotta sell first. Any buyers?

      • Stuart says:

        Wait until local and state governments start laying off and close vital services due to a lack of revenue. Schools, roads, police, fire departments, hospital, universities, DMVs to name few. Capitalism is an obsolete anachronistic failure. Time to look elsewhere.

        • S says:

          Capitalism is not a failure. It is socialism that is a huge failure, which started in the USA in 2008.

        • Reejo says:

          Ha, all it required was the government literally shutting down the economy.

        • Chris Coles says:

          It is classic feudalism, a deeply feudal mercantile economy, hiding behind the word “Capitalism” that is the problem. What we all need is a return to free enterprise.

          Free enterprise? – Free enterprise is founded upon the concept of the manager of the business owns the business.

          Ownership is an inalienable freedom; the right to own your own life, work, home, thoughts, et al. In which case, freedom also applies to the inventive and industrious, as the right to own the product of their industrious intellect. No different to an artist or writer; owning the right to their work. Thus free enterprise is an inalienable freedom; the right to own the business they have created. Just as employees are free to work, or not, in any such free enterprise.

          We live, once again, in a deeply feudal economy.

        • rhodium says:

          Not exactly capitalism’s fault. It’s just not regulated to withstand these types of events and the government was ill prepared. Doesn’t help when people are clueless as well. There is enough food and necessities in the country that the economy could theoretically slow down significantly without problems while people underconsume for awhile. However, in our incredibly debt ridden overleveraged excuse of an economy where responsibility is antithetical to the popular money making schemes, anything more than a mild drop in cash flow pretty much wrecks the camel’s back.

      • Rory Boyle says:

        Wolf, you moderate this comment? It’s dumb as dirt, which shouldn’t block it, but the barely veiled racism and human garbage stuff is beneath the site and most of the commenters.

      • Wally says:

        To Rory Boyle…
        Stop your PC b.s.. I can’t find a hint of racism in this post. I’ve been an Evangelical missionary working in Cartel-owned areas of Mexico and an inner city teacher in N.Y.. While you were doing what? Guess who’s the real racist, Rory?

      • Paulo says:

        re: “I’d leave Chicago and any other hell hole (Portland, Seattle, SF, etc) and let those Blue Coat mayors wallow with their garbage people. My parents and grand parents came her in the 1950’s and never would they do what this American gorn garbage and filth do to our country. ”

        Better tell Wolf he lives in a hell hole, and all the folks who call the other mentioned hell holes, home. There might be some disagreement with your POV. :-)

        Your comment certainly demonstrates the divide in the Country, and the unlikely prospect for understanding others and a common purpose; healing.

        “But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
        Martin Luther King Jr.

        As bad as it was watching a police officer killing someone on camera in slo mo with his hands in his pockets for greater leverage, when Covid 19 is finished with us every last person will be working a lot harder for less, except for the connected wealthy, of course. Folks with debt have a pretty big burden to lift. Folks with nothing, maybe their course is clearer. Calling them garbage people is superfluous. They’ve been told that their entire lives with actions, words, and opportunities.

    • fajensen says:

      FWIW – In my experience, Working from Home, now Without 90% of the usual Meetings & Regular Reporting instigated by Management, one can pretty much get away with a 2-3 hour work day!

    • sierra7 says:

      One part of my large family revealed to me that they have spent their $1200+ on working on DIY renovating their back yard………not surprising that the BB stores are busy!
      There will be many thousands who really didn’t need (I’m one of them) the $$ but there are many thousands that are in desperate ways.
      We’ll see how this plays out at end of July 2020……

  6. Phoenix_Ikki says:

    One day of big drop, still nothing compare to all the gains the last couple of weeks and I already read plenty of articles screaming “BUY THE DIP NOW!”

    Don’t worry, FOMO will be back in charge tomorrow. It took a sick day today. After all 1.5M new filed unemployment filed should’ve been rocket fuel for all the way up. Definitely a lot less than last week and that’s all the context the market needs right now.

    • andy says:

      Stocks suffer worst day since 3 months ago. Amazon is up for the week. S&P 5 (top 5 corporations) are valued at 6 Trillion dollars.
      Quickly, Fed to the rescue.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Fed will soon issue another statement about how the economy is looking pretty good. Yesterday, Powell didn’t even deign to answer whether the stock market is in a bubble.

        Amazon is the peak of insanity, it’s like saying that soon Amazon will be the United States of Amazon.

        Soon the government will threaten to break it up.

        • Phoenix_Ikki says:

          Haven’t you seen Idiocracy? Instead of “Welcome to Costco, I love you” or I got my law degree at Costco, it will just be Amazon instead.

          One do wish we have President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho in comparison to what we have now. At least he is funnier and definitely less racist.

        • polecat says:

          Say, anyone up for some Starbucks ..


          A herd of $acrificial goats are always good to have on hand .. for the shearing ..

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          I want my President to be Doctor Evil bald, and Jeff Bezos fits that description.

        • CRV says:

          At least Amazon delivers what you ordered. And mostly on time also. And if something goes wrong they’ll replace the item, or return your money. No way government will ever be able to match that.

      • economicminor says:

        The FED can buy up bonds but they can’t print jobs or income and without income the bonds can’t be repaid.

        Seems like so many people are either falling for the bs (KoolAid) or think they will have sense enough to get out.

        • CZ says:

          They can cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and a host of programs to pay that bond interest.

          That’s their plan.

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      It’s too early to tell who will win. Alot can happen before November. As soon as people start paying attention to Biden, then we can get a feel, of who will win. Biden is likely one of those candidates, that does worse the more he talks. His best strategy might be to shut up and do nothing. That’s not to say trump is an angel, but, he’s the devil you know.

      Alot of people online think that for health reasons or, because, of a scandal that could/did happen, Biden will drop out and his running mate will take over. Not sure if this is likely, but, alot of people have said this. That running mate might even be Hillary Clinton. Anything could happen then.

      Everything about the current protests will die out, unless, some cities actually do crazy stuff with their police departments (like greatly curtail them like Seattle did a few years ago, in Seattle, they cannot throw most criminals in jail, so drug addicts terrorize the streets), if they do, Trump wins.

      Because, of the pandemic, Trump’s stance towards China will win him some points.

      Overall, I’d say the odds are Trump will win. But, I’m not exactly a fan of either. Although, Biden is quickly becoming, the Democrat I hate the most. The democrats must have a seniority system, why else, would they pick Biden?

      • Petunia says:

        They picked HIM to replace him with HER. I call it the big switcharoo. She will lose again too.

      • Truckguy says:

        There’s no way Biden picks Hilary. 0% chance.

      • Thomas Roberts says:

        Probably, it might not be her though, it does seem like, they are taking a while to pick his running mate. They might be carefully thinking it over, or waiting for some opertune moment. I’m preparing for something absurd to happen. Nothing they could do, would surprise me, maybe.

  7. LifeSupportSystem4aVote says:

    So the BLS admitted error (way down the report as Wolf said and where the algos or the day traders never look) and it appears from the DOL numbers that they admitted to about half of the error. Color me absolutely not surprised. I read constantly about how the BLS is non-partisan and bend over backwards for accuracy, etc. when it has been apparent to me that the BLS strives for one thing – to make whoever is in the oval office look good, regardless of which party that HMFIC is affiliated with.

    Employment numbers suck? Time to change the seasoning or just use the Jean-Claude Juncker approach.

    Had the ‘error’ been the other way (unemployment much lower than ‘calculated’ by the BLS), I have little doubt that the headline figure would have been changed to reflect that lower number or at the very least the error would have been prominently mentioned in the released report headline. Additionally, you can be assured that problem would be fixed by the next report as opposed to this ongoing monthly nonsense.

    • fledermaus says:

      “the BLS strives for one thing – to make whoever is in the oval office look good, regardless of which party that HMFIC is affiliated with.”

      That has been my impression too. And the latest run up likely has been the algos confusing the map for the territory, as well as a bucket load of happy thinking by wall street firms. But the more disappointments are coming, revenue warnings, increased infection rates and worst of all executive layoffs. I have been of the opinion that the pain would trickle up rather than down in this crisis.

    • Marc says:

      You are correct. When Reagan was president, he changed the employment criteria to include the military. That lowered the ‘official’ unemployment rate. When Clinton was president, he had DOL surveys taken directed away from inner cities, which lowered the ‘official’ unemployment rate. Then, at the end of his last term, restored inner city surveys, causing the ‘official’ unemployment rates to increase in the early Bush years.

  8. timbers says:

    Do you realize there have people born in past three days who have NEVER seen the stock market this low?

    The Fed better get it’s act together, man.

  9. Uncle Sam says:

    Could the difference be in those workers who were theoretically brought back to work as part of the employer receiving a PPP grant? They’re getting a paycheck from the PPP program to sit home/remain on the payroll while everything was closed – so would not be directly reflected in an unemployment claim.

  10. Petunia says:

    I think the people being laid off now represent people higher up or better paid than the initial layoffs early on. This means while there might be less of them, the loss of pay will be higher and more painful.

    • Wally says:

      Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone else or Jesus will send you to he-double-hockey-sticks!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yes, there is starting to be some evidence for that.

    • polecat says:

      So, it’s those ‘essential’ PMC’s that are just now getting pushed off the Island!? Maybe this will help to eventually effect beneficial changes for the lower mopes, now that these 20%ers are staring at economic destitution when it tis They who look into gilt mirrors ..

    • MiTurn says:

      My nephew was bragging that his wife makes more on unemployment than working. She’s not in a hurry to get back to the office.

  11. 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

    Wolf-thank you again and again. Cooked unemployment stats have been a constant outrage (among others) to my normally-placid psyche. Not optimistic they’ll be cleaned up anytime soon, for reasons Lifesupport detailed above. Keep swinging the lamp, and…

    May we all find a better day.

  12. M says:

    The latest news reveal that we are going to be cycling in and out of crises. The UK is now counting the deaths due to its failure to lock down.

    In the US, in places where the virus may be spreading explosively, we are still causing unnecessary, avoidable deaths. Panic will keep hammering the economy. Those who wanted us to ignore science and the virus will lose what they most value.

  13. Seneca's cliff says:

    Another problem with the data may be that much of it comes from state employment departments such as the wonderful one here in Oregon. They are massively behind in processing claims, partially because they are running a computer system from the 70’s programmed in Cobal. They got $10 million from the feds in 2009 to upgrade it to something modern but are on such a slow track that it is not scheduled to be complete and working until 2025. The director of the department finally got fired by the governor because she refused to answer questions from the legislature, and when they brought her in for a 1 hour hearing she showed them a power point presentation about the history of the employment division that lasted for 59 minutes leaving no time for questions. I would not trust any data that they put out today.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Seneca’s cliff,

      “…programmed in COBOL” before commenter Cobalt Programmer catches you in flagrante delicto ?

    • PatientNindja says:

      Seneca, if I remember correctly, you’re an appraiser in Central Oregon? Or maybe I’m thinking of a different commenter. If so, I’d love to get your take on the CO real estate market.

  14. Brant Lee says:

    According to the dept of labor stats, there are 132m working, 32m unemployed. We’re at around 24% unemployment minus smoke and mirrors?

    • Bobby Dents says:

      That is not quite how it’s calculated. 19% in April and then down to 16% in May as the reopening began sounds about right. I am sure the Trump administration is pressuring. Which is why we get the 2 sets of data.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        Don’t worry, it will ‘calc’ out fine, after May’s adjustment in July!

  15. David Hall says:

    Someone should figure out how to increase production when they pay roughly 2/3 of laid off workers more to stay at home and do nothing, than to work a job. If they find a job and go to work producing something of monetary value, then they will be paid less than the sum of State and new Federal unemployment benefits.

    Man can not live by money alone.

    • fajensen says:

      One little secret of the knowledge economy is that: Most workers are pretty useless and most of the work done has a negative value, it destroys capital!

      All of the good work, that keeps the ship afloat, is done by only a few talented people!

      We keep the other lot around, primarily because our status within the organisation and our remuneration scales exponentially with the number of people we “lead” (and this is The Game), secondly because as leaders, one is somewhat unqualified to see who is who! Fire the wrong person and everything grinds to a halt, why risk it just for some money-people we don’t even know?!!

  16. cb says:

    There is more Chaos than that. I’ve unemployment at 13.3%, 16.3%, 40%, etc. This article sums up 30 million unemployed.

    How do we determine the true unemployment rate?

    perhaps it makes better sense just track the total number of people actually employed.

    It would be straight forward if we just used raw numbers. No seasonal adjustment. No inflation adjustments. No hedonics or hueristics.

    • Paulo says:

      I found these stats astounding:

      “Neither Georgia nor Wyoming has raised its minimum wage from $5.15 per hour, even after the federal government boosted the national minimum to $7.25. Because of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the majority of minimum wage workers in Georgia and Wyoming are paid $7.25 rather than $5.15 per hour. But certain farm and seasonal workers may earn the lower minimum.
      States without minimum wage laws:

      South Carolina

      These five southern states have not established state-level minimum wage policies, effectively defaulting to the national federal minimum of $7.25. Employers in these states must adhere to that federal benchmark and do not have the freedom to pay employees whatever they want.”

      Amazing, this day and age expecting people to survive on 14K per year provided they work full time 40 hour weeks.

      No wonder there is unrest? How does anyone claw their way out of poverty?

      The last time I earned $7.25 per hour was in 1974-5. I was working as a third year carpenters apprentice at age 19. The Canadian dollar was worth $1.04 US that year, a case of beer was $2.65 and a carton of smokes was under $4. (I smoked then). In today’s value that minimum wage would be $30 per hour when adjusted for inflation and cost of living.

      There are jobs and there are jobs. For many it is none of the above. There is going to be an unbelievable hole to climb out of in the next year or so, and considering the disparity, the prospects don’t look very promising.

      • WES says:


        Back then, I was working in a gold mine for $2 per hour!

      • Beardawg says:

        PAULO – You musta got yer deegree a lot earlier then I did. I detassled corn for $1.10 / Hr in 1974 in MN and in 1978 I had worked my way into a dishwasher job in a family restaurant for $2.10 / Hr. Got promoted to cook for $2.35. Not sure what that equates to with inflation today, but I have to agree $7.25/Hr must be a tough road to hoe unless you live with a couple roommates.

      • Seen it all before, Bob says:

        14K/year. Banks will happily qualify you to buy a 52K house.

        You need to find it.

        Good luck!

        • DawnsEarlyLight says:

          Like my 50k appraised garage, housing my 60k vehicle. Funny how I built the garage for 28k, and my vehicle is now valued at 32k!

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        What is full-time? Is that like having 3 or 4 on-call jobs?
        What is a 40 hour week? I thought a week was 168 hours like when they want me to be available on-call. Are these code words you older folks use?

  17. DR DOOM says:

    Description of rubble can be highly variable.

    • polecat says:

      I envision quite the cluster of societal earthquakes before too long, bigger than any for the past few centuries. Strongman, Warlord type shakers … many thereof!

      • sierra7 says:

        Those eruptions may begin with the political conventions in the Fall………

  18. WES says:

    The numbers being touted for unemployment are so large, they no longer have any meaning.

    Except, if you are one of these large numbers.

    My number came up in 2001.

  19. Tom Stone says:

    There’s a buying opportunity here, NOLO press is going to sell a shitload of do it yourself Bankruptcy books.

  20. Seen it all before, Bob says:

    Does anyone doubt there are 30M waitstaff, dishwashers, hotel cleaning staff, Hotel maintenance, Uber drivers, AirBnB cleaning staff, gardeners and on and on….? 30M/330M is less than 10% of the US population. I don’t doubt it. They have been all unemployed likely earning a higher wage with unemployment benefits during this time.

    Does anyone doubt that when Covid goes away that all of these near minimum wage people will be fully employed again as the rest of the 90% emerge and desperately want to go out to dinner and on vacation again?

    Unfortunately, at near minimum wage, none will continue to buy houses or invest in stocks.

    I had a discussion on Facebook this week with someone reading an F Scott Fitzgerald book written in 1921. Fitzgerald wrote about the decadence of the 1% in the Roaring 20’s. What’s interesting is that none of his books bring up the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 that killed 650K+ US citizens. 2 years after the pandemic, the Roaring 20’s were roaring and the rich got richer with no memory or fear of the nearly 1M lost souls due to the pandemic. This was a minor blip for the economy then. At least until the Crash of 1929 and Great Depression.

    Do we have 10 more years to continue to roar? History says yes.

    • DR DOOM says:

      Bob: I would not nor could not offer a challenge to 40-50 million. The pending GDP drop could support this. Going further into the future one would easily and safely say that the whole Nation will be impacted through our human connections in ways we can not predict. I will keep this this little nugget in my brain pan to keep me focused. 10 people at Blackrock got 565 billion from the Fed in order to “help out”. This is obscene and immoral.

  21. MCH says:

    My $0.02 on this article, and this is not meant as anything except an observation of the obvious. So much for being guided by data.

    The common refrain in the last few months by well meaninged politicians and scientists have all been about guided by the data and by the science. I agree with this fully except the problem is that there is not often enough a sufficient view and analysis of the data to determine if there are systematic errors or situations that the instrument by which data is taken cannot be adequately relied upon.

    This is not to suggest that we should abandon the data, but rather we should look more carefully at the source of data and the methods by which the data is gathered and do critical analysis of said data to make sure the hypothesis is properly supported and there are not too many counterindications rather cherry picking it to make it fit certain conclusions that we all want to arrive at.

  22. Augusto says:

    These government departments fill out forms. It doesn’t matter if the form makes sense or even adds, just as long as it follows the form’s rules. “Unemployed” is a title on the top of the form, its not meant to follow the English definition of the word. Its the form’s definition that is important. This is what bureaucrats do, they follow rules and forms, it has nothing to do about meaningful information for citizens. I’m not joking, I used to audit these guys, this is how they think and their world…it has nothing to do with you, common sense or value…its just about the form and the rules.

  23. Yancey Ward says:

    The BLS isn’t counting the 8.5 million Nigerians claiming unemployment in Washington state.

    I hope I am joking.

    • MB732 says:

      Washington is ahead of the curve on this issue. They realize it is unfair to deny unemployment claims from citizens of other countries simply because they have not managed to get themselves into USA.

    • buda atum says:

      I beg your pardon.


  24. Eastwind says:

    The numbers make perfect sense to me. 21 million people are unemployed, and 29.5 million are receiving benefits, including 8.5 million fraudsters.

  25. Chris Coles says:

    First read: Making 9 million jobless “Vanish” : How the government manipulates unemployment statistics by Daniel Amerman

    The underlying problem is the lack of independence; critical thinkers within the academics employed by “government” who nowadays only provide what the “government” wants to hear.

  26. Lisa_Hooker says:

    I’m confused. I’m getting $600/week (for breathing) so I guess I’m not unemployed. I must be a temporary employee of the Federal government. Like the temporary door-to-door census takers. This is more than I made when I had a private sector job.

  27. HR01 says:


    This observer has ignored the “official” unemployment report for many decades. There has been no statistical credibility with their work and no audits are ever performed to validate what gets spit out.

    UI claims numbers are much more accurate, for now but lose accuracy as benefits run out.

    Regardless, we’re just getting warmed up here. The real unemployment mess gets going in the fourth quarter after the PPP covenants expire and these loans turn into grants. The numbers should spike by the end of October and many of these positions will be higher up the salary scale.

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