Unemployment Crisis Going in Wrong Direction: Week 25 of U.S. Labor Market Collapse

Continued unemployment claims rise for second week, to 29.6 million, worst since Aug 1, meaning 18.4% of labor force is on unemployment insurance. State & federal initial claims jumped to 1.7 million in the week (not seasonally adjusted).

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Total continued claims for unemployment insurance (UI) under all state and federal programs rose by 380,000, to 29.6 million people (not seasonally adjusted), the highest since August 1, according to the Department of Labor this morning. This was the second weekly increase in a row, after the 2.2-million jump last week.

These 29.6 million people who continued to claim UI under all programs translate into 18.4% of the civilian labor force of 161 million:

Blue columns – continued claims under state programs: +54k

The number of people who continued claiming UI under state programs rose by 54k to 13.2 million (not seasonally adjusted), the first increase after five decreases in a row.

Red columns – continued claims, federal & other programs: +326k

The number of people on UI under all federal programs established by the CARES Act and some other programs rose by 326k to 16.4 million (not seasonally adjusted):

  • Federal PUA claims jumped by 1.0 million to 14.59 million. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, established under the CARES Act, covers contract workers, the self-employed, gig workers, etc. This was driven by a jump of 1.55 million continued claims in California.
  • Federal PEUC claims rose by 29k to 1.42 million. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, established under the CARES Act, covers workers not covered by other programs.
  • State Extended Benefits jumped by 72k to 241k.
  • State STC / Workshare claims fell by 16k to 253k.
  • Federal Employees: 13.6k continued claims.
  • Newly Discharged Veterans: 13.0k continued claims.

Newly-laid off workers: state & federal UI initial claims:

Initial claims under the federal PUA program for contract workers jumped to 839k in the week ended September 5, from 748k in the prior week (not seasonally adjusted).

Initial claims under state programs rose by 20k to 857k (not seasonally adjusted) in the week ended September 5, remaining in the same range now for five weeks, and there has been no improvement:

State plus federal PUA initial claims combined jumped to 1.70 million (not seasonally adjusted). These are people who’d newly lost their work and filed for UI during the week ended September 5, translating into a monthly rate of over 7 million people who are still losing their work and file for UI.

Labor Department corrected calculations that had gone rogue.

Two weeks ago, the Labor Department announced that it would correct “seasonally adjusted” unemployment-claims calculations because they’d gone rogue during this crisis. I stopped reporting “seasonally adjusted” claims in May for that reason, and reported exclusively “not seasonally adjusted” claims, and continue to do so, and none of the data I have reported since late May was impacted by that correction in calculation methods (here is my explanation of those changes and my chart that shows just how rogue these “seasonally adjusted” claims had gone; in the linked article, scroll down to “Data Chaos, Part 2”) .

The picture that emerges.

That 1.7 million people getting newly laid off and filing for UI in the last week is a deterioration of similar terrible numbers over the four prior weeks. This means that these companies are still shedding massive numbers of people. At the same time, a smaller number of people that had received UI have gotten a job, and continued claims deteriorated further to 29.7 million claims. This is a huge number of people on UI, and it has gone in the wrong direction for the second week in a row.

There is a churn and a shift going on, with some companies and sectors hiring large numbers of people – retailers, ecommerce operations of all kinds including fulfillment and shipping, restaurants, the lodging industry, etc. – while other industries are now shedding jobs. This includes small and medium-size businesses that have received PPP loans whose effective data range has now expired.

And it includes large companies, including tech companies, where wages are higher. After having vowed during the early phases of the crisis not to do so, they’re now laying off staff. It’s a sort of sector rotation of layoffs. Read… The Second Wave of Layoffs is Here, Now Hitting Well-Paid Jobs

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  179 comments for “Unemployment Crisis Going in Wrong Direction: Week 25 of U.S. Labor Market Collapse

  1. It’s just going to get worse from here. We aren’t in the toilet, the toilet is broken and effluent is spreading all over the floor.

    • Frederick says:

      I never believed the unemployment numbers prior to this COVID thing to be honest There is a lot of fudging the numbers going on

      • Petunia says:

        In the south the economy was good until covid. The extended benefits and forbearance did a lot to keep things stable. Now that these are ending, its going to get really bad.

        House prices during covid are generally up 25-50% and some are selling. But it makes no sense unless it’s all outsider money. My conspiracy theory is that REITs or investors are listing houses at crazy prices to juice up the comps and snare the suckers. I expect the foreclosures to be off the charts. To me it’s looking like Florida 2007.

        • Frederick says:

          I have a good friend in Raleigh who lost her job with IBM last year so things weren’t so great for her

        • Voltamom says:

          Interesting theory on house prices. We have been casually looking at houses in another part of our state and some of the list prices are well above the latest assessed value and these houses are vacant and not in great shape. Only thing going for them is they have a dock along the river/bay.

        • RightNYer says:

          My theory is that house prices are high right now because of low volume. That is, the people who have the suburban houses aren’t going anywhere, and people fleeing cities are looking for their first houses, or people elsewhere are looking to buy before prices go up even more, creating a positive feedback loop.

          It’s not sustainable, however.

        • Ed says:

          I agree. I think it’s low volume.

          I think a lot people are hunkered down. We personally have two sets of friends who have moved in with their elderly parents because they don’t have work and can’t make the rent.

          In coastal areas, I suppose people are refusing to sell low.

          In middle America and non-tech cities, people are hunkered down without a choice because there’s not a lot of hiring in retail and light or heavy manufacturing. If you’re behind on your payments and out of work, are buying a house? If rents are falling everywhere, why buy?

        • Ed says:

          I might add that our friends are in the entertainment sector. One husband and wife both work at the same prominent venue.

          That sector is pretty big in Austin, TX, and just decimated. People are doing online concerts and whatnot but it’s a paltry income replacement and of course only for the performers. The employees of the venues are seriously out of luck in 2020.

        • DawnsEarlyLight says:

          Looking at historical property taxes paid, and the current asking price of the property, is a true indicator of how much these are being ‘juiced’ up!

      • Lance Manly says:

        The DOL numbers here are spot on. They come from the states that have real people collecting real checks. The BLS system for the NFP report is built on surveys that in normal times give a fairly reliable figure, but these are not normal times.

        • DawnsEarlylight says:

          ‘BLS’ and ‘Reliable’ should never be used in the same sentence!

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Agree totally F,
        Not in market now, but in 08 and 09, was ”bidding out” approx. $300MM of construction work successfully, and had tons of contacts all over USA;;; at the time the guv mint was reporting 15% NOT employed, my admittedly anecdotal estimate was that it was more like 15% employed.
        All my really well qualified friends and some equally qualified family were out of work for at least a few months in the worst of the worst.
        And, similar to what others have said on here, it seems to me that the RE market now is a reflection of many buying while they can, with clear understanding of being able to stay in a SF house with yard and at least some separation from others, for a long time without paying for it a very real possibility. I certainly saw a lot of folks doing so 08-12.
        Similarly for the SM, though I suspect the big boys are once again setting it all up to unload onto the retail suckers as has been done dozens of times the last few hundred years, eh?
        ( Out of the SM since early 1980s, in RE since then.)

        • David says:

          You got it wrong Vintage. People didn’t buy houses to stay in them without paying the mortgage, they bought houses to flip them or for an investment or because prices were going up so quick they wanted to get in a house before they were unaffordable (if ever, given the zero underwriting standards) . When the market turned with the financial crises, people stopped paying because all of a sudden they were underwater by large amounts. Why pay a 200 K mortgage on a 100K house? Here in Florida people did stay for months or years, without paying, because the banks were required to sue and prove lack of payment. There were so many foreclosures the banks couldn’t keep up. Then there were all sorts of technical defenses that kept the banks at bay for a long time, not to mention the banks were caught committing fraud by doctoring affidavits. It was just a convergence of circumstances. Will it happen again? If housing prices go down again like in 2008, for sure.

      • Sunny129 says:

        Not just unemployment numbers, look at massaging at GDP and inflation too!

        Global CBers have spent over TWENTY TRILLIONS since GFC but still stuck, even before Covid 19! M2 has zoomed along with deficit and debt but velocity is crawling at the bottom. All the money got directed to Equity.Bond mkts.
        Now comes the DOWN cycle hastened by Covid 19. And many newbies STILL think that Stocks will climb again irrespective of fundamentals unravelling on the ground!

        Mkts are sliding b/c NO more EASY-PEASY money spigot from Fed!

      • Continuously Researching says:

        The other problem way they fudge the numbers is by only providing data on “auction prices”.

        Many home sell outside of auction…but that’s not included in the figures

        • Mira says:

          The Suburb of Preston .. I am 2 suburbs away .. is a majority of townhouses & apartment buildings .. house prices have risen by $100k to $300k in the last 6 months .. at last 40% are empty .. ??
          The state government introduces a tax .. for a $500.000 empty dwelling the demand $5.000 tax.
          *This is supposed to be an incentive to release the property for rent ..
          *Is this supposed to be an incentive to release the property for rent ..
          Or is this taking a cut in the action !!

      • eg says:

        Avoid the U3 — only the U6 has any value.

      • layoff says:

        We had millions of log term unemployed, before COVID-19 hit. and remember you are not counted after 26 weeks.

    • Tony22 says:

      Oct 1 is the cliff.

      That’s the first day of the rest of many people’s life on permanant unemployment if they work for a business with over 500 employees.

      Those corporations which recieved PPP loans get to keep the money as a grant as long as they keep people on the payroll, whether working or not, until September 30th.

      • AlbieOK says:

        +1. Folks are ignoring this reality.

      • X-Pat DE says:

        Anecdotally. A young (30) friend of mine was laid off from Lufthansa (technik) a month or so ago (shortly after German state bailed Lufthansa out for €9,000,000,000).

        He told me the HR dept. told him to take the (small) severance money and run. Apparently more (200) layoffs are on the way and a possible bankruptcy. In that case no worker will get severance.

  2. Lucas Taddei says:

    I struggle to understand the relationship between continuing claims, the unemployment rate you mentioned, and the “official” unemployment figure that is hovering at 8% as of month end August.

    I don’t understand how it is that low given the continuing claims numbers you are showing?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      To arrive at this 8% unemployment rate, which is based on survey data, not unemployment claims, the BLS jumps through a long series of assumptions, interpretations, and decisions as to who to include or exclude, and what not. Each decision can shave off a million or two of the unemployed. The BLS itself discusses some of those issues in the notes. It’s headache-inducing reading. And as a result, that 8% is way off.

      I have been calling it “data chaos” from the beginning of the crisis. Every piece of unemployment data we get is somehow screwed up. Note the labor Department’s huge correction of “seasonal adjustments” last week – thank god that I’d stopped using them in May.

      But the BLS hasn’t changed it seasonal adjustments calculations. As of the last report, it’s still using the prior method. I have no idea how that is impacting its data, including the unemployment rate, which is seasonally adjusted.

      • Lucas Taddei says:

        Thank you! This is the most concise yet encompassing explanation I’ve received. The number of assumptions you mention that are made by the BLS is surprising. It definitely erodes my trust in what I previously thought was a straightforward metric driven by the labor force participation rate and unemployment claims.

        • polecat says:

          It’s not surprising, once you factor in the Peter Principle .. as it applies to Gov agencies .. there is no benefit to the princelings and princesses who run those janky factotum engines of unaccountability, of ever coming clean!

          Tis a rarity when it actually occurs.

      • divadab says:

        Hi, Wolf, – a technical question:

        Does this analysis double-count the unemployed? Most people who are claiming federal unemployment benefits under PUA or PEUC first have to apply for State unemployment insurance. The federal benefits are administered by the States through their unemployment programs so that federal benefits are received via the States. So don’t the State totals include most of the unemployed receiving Federal benefits?
        Since the States have differing eligibility and monetary unemployment benefits the detail is complex – but since total State unemployment beneficiaries are 13.2 million and total receiving federal benefits are 16 million, the difference appears to be mostly people who qualify for federal benefits but do not qualify for State benefits. There’s another offset in the other direction – people who qualify for State unemployment benefits (“regular” unemployment) but don;t qualify for federal benefits – but I suspect this is a low number.
        SO using the federal totals alone for total unemployed to account for the apparent double-counting gives an unemployment rate of about 10%, which is close to the official figures (16 million divided by 160 million labor force).

        I’ve also got a call in to the DOL on this question – do you have any insights?

        Thx for your insightful columns,
        A concerned CPA

        • Wolf Richter says:

          No, PUA/PEUC and state benefits are not double-counted. When you apply for UI, at that moment in time, at your state unemployment office, it’s decided whether you qualify for one or the other, then you file your application (claim) for one or the other, which is then processed. They’re reported separately, based on separate processes. You cannot claim both (if you do, it’s fraud).

  3. MonkeyBusiness says:

    The New Economy does not need employment!!! It just needs constant bailouts.

    • GaiusMarius says:

      Exactly, who needs employment these days? Just dump all your money in stocks and watch your net value soar to the moon!

      What can possibly go wrong?

      • Zantetsu says:

        Well I lost $50,000 in the past week on the stock market, so that can go wrong. I am still up about 6.5% since July when I got in, but it’s a far cry from the 14% I was up before I got greedy and tried (unsuccessfully) to catch falling knives in the past week.

        • sunny129 says:

          There no follow stimulus or more easy-peasy money from Fed!

          Without Fed coming to rescue, this mkt will keep sliding down b/c every thing else is just ‘hot air’
          S&P will follow – Lower of the highs and lower of lows, with bear trap spikes between – classic secular BEAR mkt until Powell injects a couple more Trillions to keep the mkts ‘functioning’ smoothly. Balance sheet could go 10T and beyond.

          Bailouts are still NOT done. More cry babies on the way!

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          The most difficult part of becoming competent juggling running chainsaws is the initial practice sessions.

      • Mira says:

        Absolutely !!

    • Engin-ear says:


      “The New Economy does not need employment!!! It just needs constant bailouts.”

      I see the sarcasm.

      But would like to remind to the noble readers of this comment section:

      Lower employement = lower real economy = lower social stability.

      How far are we willing to risk the future of our civilization?

  4. Red people are workers with no employee status, like Uber workers, and independent contractors. Blue people are traditional employees. This blowback goes to Wall St. Powell will dust off the SPV. The only reason Fed ever lightens it’s balance sheet is to make room for more at a later date, like the person who diets right before the holidays, then makes a pig of themselves.

  5. Roy Morrison says:

    How do they come up with 8 or 9% unemployment lies?

    • Paulo says:

      My question as well. Our economy up in Canada is doing much better and still has over 10% unemployment, yet the US version was touted to be just 8.4% the other day.

      Control the virus and the economy comes back. Our infection rates have increased due to young people partying this summer, to a whopping 2% in BC. And people here are freaking out and pissed off about it. Bars are now shut at 10:00pm and no nightclubs open. Music must be set quite low so no shouting to be heard. Anyway, schools are open for in-person learning, the forest industry is booming and local tourism quite robust. The only down sector is foreign/US tourism, dining out in large numbers, and events requiring greater than 50 people to attend. Other than that life is pretty normal except for mask wearing in stores and dining tables restricted to 6 patrons and no rafting up tables.

      Mind you, our political leaders here have been honest about the virus and follow the lead of our scientists. We had our first home event the other day. Invited a neighbour couple over for burgers cooked on the fire pit. Everything done outside and social distance maintained. Before arriving they phoned and asked if they should wear masks? (No). There are 3 active Covid cases on Vancouver Island, none in hospital, out of a population of just under 1 million. Like I said, control the virus and the economy comes back. Virus control starts with all decisions made based on truth. There is your first problem to solve.

      • Ed says:

        Good luck to us.

        We firmly quarantined until late summer. Now we have three sets of our kids’ friends who are allowed in the house and vice versa. Two friends for the 4-year-old and one pair of twins for our older boys. That’s it. One parent only has been in the house with her girl.

        It’s a shame to have been so locked down and nothing to show for it. It’s a little bit infuriating, in fact.

      • sunny129 says:

        Canadian Economy is closely connected with USA’s EConomy and the price of oil!
        Both are remain sick. Loony is sliding against US $!
        The whole global economy and the commerce are sliding down.

        BTW the housing is major part of the economy in ANY Country.
        Past Dec ’20, the reality will hit hard. How many pre-covid Jobs are going to come back??Until then DATA chaos, giving no clear cut direction!

      • eg says:

        I think the Canadian equivalent of the US U6 is the R8 — ignore the “official” unemployment rate propaganda.

  6. seb says:

    Yep. My wife’s company (in San Diego) is announcing furloughs tomorrow. Also included is a 10% pay reduction for those who will remain on staff. PPP ran out and now they have to make adjustments. Luckily my wife will stay on staff – but with a reduction in pay. Fewer people = more work at less pay for the rest of the staff.

  7. DR DOOM says:

    For what it’s worth . This has been my favorite post since it was started. So much bull-shit tweaking from other sources that most are just an op-Ed disguised as analysis. Wolf is Just like Joe Friday ” please,just the facts ma’am.”

    • Rory says:

      Agree. I don’t even read the CNBC article just wait for Wolf to break it down.

      • buda atum says:

        I’ve been looking for a reason to donate and choose to blame you!

        I just wonder where you all go for politics since it’s wisely banned here. Any info will be appreciated.

  8. Bobber says:

    When I see gig worker unemployment payments rising, at a time when the economy is supposedly picking up a little, the first thing I think about is fraud. Perhaps people are taking advantage of the PUA program and making bogus or inflated claims. I suspect there are not many internal controls over this program. I expect they are urgently handing out money, with or without plans to ask questions later.

    I did hear a media person claim that babysitters who had a couple gigs are applied for and received the former $600 weekly benefit under the PUA program. If that’s the case, there truly are no controls. It’s just a helicopter drop, partly to people who game the system.

    To me, this illustrates how certain aspects of our government are failing us. If it weren’t the Federal Reserve’s involvement in blowing bubbles and creating unsustainable debt levels, none of these problems would exist. The need for stimulus would not exist.

    • Petunia says:

      I don’t doubt that some unworthy people got a few thousand in unearned unemployment. But considering all the truly unworthy financial types that have defrauded the taxpayers out of trillions. I just don’t want to hear the petty resentment at a few babysitters milking the system.

      • Beardawg says:


        Fraud is fraud – whether at the survival economic level or at the Boardroom level. That said, I totally agree with your sentiment. I am a Musician (I know, we all suffer our life choices), but I followed the PUA / State Unemployment filing rules and I have been making more as an unemployed musician than I was as an “employed” gig musician. I do NOT feel like I am gaming the system because I did follow the rules – BUT – the rules were easy to skirt around as we can see from the anecdotal posts we see here in this forum.

        It’s wrong for sure – but unwinding all that fraud created by bad legislation will just create more bad legislation and the fraud expenditures will be converted to government auditing jobs and victory laps by our hapless leaders, claiming they are catching all the bad guys – with more stimulus $$$ expended to do so.

        • Petunia says:

          Speaking of fraud, I know the music business better than I like to admit. Considering the times I know you got screwed by club owners, promoters, and managers, I could never begrudge you the extra money.

        • zagonostra says:

          “Fraud is Fraud” is NOT true. There are degrees of fraud. If I get a paper cut it hurts if I get my arm amputated it’s on a different order. If I break the law going 75 miles per hour instead of the posted 70, it’s different than if I break the law by writing a bad check to the local merchant.

      • Harrold says:

        Yeah, its the old give the guy that robs a 7-11 of $20 gets life in the slammer, but launder a few million for a drug lord and you get a small fine.

        • polecat says:

          Or, in the case of the See I Aye, you get an even BIGGER budget allotment .. courtesy of the fine purplebipartisan Cons-greased, for collecting .. and dispersing, all that snow!

          Same kinda gig, just like the recent ‘upgrade’ for General ‘STARTREK Bridge’ Alexander, to Amazon!

        • Tony22 says:

          Cheating honorable people is theft.

          Stealing from thieves is still theft, but might be justified as revenge, payback or survival.

          Stealing from corporations that exist to steal as much as possible from people, i.e. payday lenders, or maybe credit card companies, is your civic duty.

          There are no morals involved because corporations are not human, live forever and have more protections than humans do before the law.

          Owe $30,000 to Visa? “Priceless”.

      • Bobber says:

        Some people are committing fraud, so it’s OK for others to do the same?

        You going to make that your stand?

        • Yertrippin says:

          I don’t believe anyone said fraud is OK. “Degrees of fraud.”

          The all or nothing approach ignores reality. But you knew that already right?

      • Mira says:

        I got fed up with ‘those’ who condemn the battler / the common man on unemployment benefits .. & teens .. Australian TV .. fed statistics by the ABS .. viciously went after anything that moved ..
        & I spat the dummy ..
        While fraud is being conducted as a run of the mill business transaction among the upper echelon, elite, bourgeoisie & their lackeys .. I actively cheer the lowly of us who cheat on CENTRELINK.
        example .. Moreland Rd. CENTRELINK office .. it was said that a female staffer helped herself to $11 million over a period of 6 years .. by creating fraudulent customers & channelling their aged pension payments to several accounts in her control.
        Let those who need be an example to us lead the way.

    • Lance Manly says:

      “I did hear a media person claim that babysitters who had a couple gigs are applied for and received the former $600 weekly benefit under the PUA program. If that’s the case, there truly are no controls. It’s just a helicopter drop, partly to people who game the system.”

      So one anecdote means everyone is fraudulent? There are plenty of controls that examine the paper trail. It takes time. If you are going to game the system be prepared to lawyer up when they sniff you out.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Part of this is that states are still catching up processing their backlog of PUA claims. Florida is still showing zero continued PUA claims. Someday they will catch up.

    • Don says:

      Just think of those babysitters as billionaires in training.

  9. One thing I am finding is that Unemployment statistics could be impacted by high rates of fraudulent claims. In California for example over 405,000 filings were made for PUA, and that represented about half the total for the entire country. Fraudsters are hitting the unemployment agencies hard state by state. That could be at play here.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Catching up processing the backlog of PUA claims. The EDD was totally overwhelmed. Lots of stories still about claims not being processed.

      But yes, there is also some fraud.

  10. NDM says:

    Wolf, did you see today’s Bloomberg article on this? https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-10/u-s-jobless-claims-failed-to-decline-as-expected-last-week?srnd=premium

    Curious note at the bottom:

    “The Labor Department said the total number of Americans claiming benefits in all programs rose by about 380,000 to 29.6 million in the week ended Aug. 22, compared with about 1.6 million a year earlier. That number, however, has been inflated during the pandemic, as multiple weeks claimed by one person are counted as multiple people instead.”

    Could this help describe some of the discrepancy between UI figures and the BLS survey? I take this to mean that when people receive initial benefits, their multiple back weeks of benefits are counted all at once – so that’s why initial weekly claims are continually so high? We know that states are still taking forever to process some UI claims – so when people get 15 weeks of retroactive UI claims at once, they show up as 15 separate initial claims? Or does this effect continued claims as well?

    • Lance Manly says:

      Personally I have never seen a reasonable explanation of why that would be. Looks to me like the reporters picked up on an unsubstantiated meme and repeated it. The continued claims are who was paid UI during that week, previous weeks would not matter.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      There’s probably some of that, depending how states have set this up. Bloomberg in a prior report noted that the backlog on those PUA claims caused some of this in some states because their systems weren’t set up to process PUA claims. More data chaos.

      In that prior report, Bloomberg said: “While the inflated weekly figures probably don’t significantly alter the picture of a wide swath of the U.S. workforce being out of a job, they add to difficulties in deciphering what’s happening in the labor market using the weekly jobless claims data — already rife with quirks, errors, and complications.”

      And Bloomberg added: “The backlogs make it difficult to get a clear reading on jobless claims, though the broader trend seen in the reports is still helpful, said Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank AG.”

      I think the bigger issue has been and still may be that backlog of PUA claims that haven’t been processed yet, and some states are still catching up.

      For example, Florida is still showing zero continued PUA claims. Which is nuts, given how big that state is. When are Florida’s continued PUA claims going to show up? If they do, they’ll be a huge jump. But I will make sure to note it. California has been going through some of that over the past two weeks.

      • Petunia says:

        If you want to see what looks like extreme UI fraud or extreme incompetence, take a look at Nevada. I think they call their system EDD.

        Some single family home addresses are receiving benefits for hundreds of people. The crooks might be using these addresses as mail drops. Some claimants are receiving many multiples of benefits, while others haven’t received anything.

        • Stephen C. says:

          I wonder if people (Californians) with second homes in Nevada are claiming UI in Nevada, along with doing so in Cali. Maybe they have an Air B N B without necessarily being an LLC, and so went the PUA route. That’s fraud but maybe they talk themselves into thinking they are, in some sense, self-employed in Nevada, where their rental is. I’m only speculating. And no, I’m not “asking for a friend.”

          As a self-employed writer I filed with the EDD in California for unemployment, but I honestly listed the income I had made in Jan. and Feb. for sales of online programs. Listed all the income made, right up to the date of filing. They turned me down, which wasn’t a surprise. I wasn’t trying to defraud anyone. I was just depressed and predicting that people would stop buying my content because they would be going broke soon, and I didn’t want to starve. Is that fraud?

          For those of you who are morally pure, or pure capitalists, whichever the case may be, after I got turned down I upped my marketing game and have sold much more than before the pandemic. I guess you could say the stingy state government kicked my ass into gear.

  11. Sam says:

    Could the esteemed members (here) offer up their assessments of underemployed vs. unemployed %’s?
    Thank You in-advance.

    • Don’t forget the over employed. There are more than a few of those, at least in construction. The real problem is economic distortion, which is what happened in the 70’s. People quit their day jobs to go house flipping. There was the swap meet economy as well. Urban flight took hold, and the newly rural discovered illegal pot growing. There was a lot of economic activity just hard to measure. People who are doing well tend to support the incumbent in an election, which by inference implies some people are doing pretty well.

    • eg says:

      You may be looking for the U6 — it is the broadest measure of un-and-underemployment in the US. The official unemployment number is a bad joke

  12. B.A.C.A.H. says:

    An article in this morning’s WSJ says that the mall landlords’ purchase of Penney’s “means continued employment for most of its 70,000 employees”.

  13. Cocomaan says:

    I’m also noticing something related: work is slowing down. Response times are getting longer, team projects are starting to crash. People lifting their fingers to compose an email is getting rarer. I started getting this “static” back in August but now it’s getting more profound.

    And why would you work hard right now? If you get laid off you can collect enough unemployment to ride this mess out.

    • Frederick says:

      This too will end Badly

    • MCH says:

      You are of the belief that unemployment will still be available. The states are in bad shape and it’s going to get worse in two weeks once the airlines start their round of lay-offs. The Federal government is going to hit a real wall at some point.

      The current combo of stimulus and laws around housing isn’t working. It is practically like cocaine for an addict to a lifestyle that no longer is possible thanks to the virus and the secondary effects that have multiplied the impact of the original virus by orders of magnitudes.

      And as someone famous once said: “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

      • Cocomaan says:

        I think you’re right, but one quibble: I don’t think the federal government is “hitting a wall” as much as the two parties are dangling the prospect of relief aid over the American public’s nose. Neither party wants to be the one to give it out right now because they can just promise it after the election and then deliver if they so wish.

        • MCH says:

          Given the chance, the two parties will happily f*** over the entire country as long as it’s detrimental to the other side.

          Somehow, the sides have split from reasonable differences to a game of name calling where one side is essentially a bunch of facists, and the other is a bunch of communists, so we went from a situation where the manageable difference in ideology has become a struggle for existence.

          In my mind, dump them both, certainly the extremists on both sides (who apparently are getting louder every day). And while we’re at it, we need to get away from the bozos in the peanut gallery (MSM) who has decided that they aren’t just the reporter of the news, but they are the moral center and deserve the right to be deciders, and their opinion is what’s right. What a bunch of arrogant asses.

        • polecat says:

          Or deliver not .. but an empty vessel, as is their want!

        • phoenix says:

          MCH, the claim that there are 2 extremist sides for our elected officials is tiring and not factual. Both parties are far right and only exist to serve capital, one slightly further than the other.

      • Beardawg says:

        “You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet”

        BTO – great Canadian rockers !! :-)

  14. Seneca's cliff says:

    Just starting to read the late great David Graeber’s book “B.S. Jobs”. He describes 4 entire classes of jobs that are not really necessary but have evolved over the years to keep people busy. I am starting to wonder if this Pandemic and the grim unemployment that is accompanying it is like a great broom sweeping many of these jobs away.

    • Fat Chewer. says:

      I think so too. I call it busy work like what primary school teachers give children to do while the teacher goes for a much needed shot of whiskey.

      In this instance, it gives bored upper middle folks who didn’t make the grade easy employment living out their dream of being an imperious asshole.

    • Stephen C. says:

      I’ve met some people, very fine capitalists among them, say that reading a book is a waste of time. So by inference, David Graeber’s job, as a writer, was a mere b.s. job. I mean, if no one ever read his books and he had to flip burgers for a living, would the economy collapse and the world cease to be? Answer is no.
      But the world is a better place, I think, for having books, even his books.

      Also, his publishers, who most likely make the lion’s share of the profits of the sales of his books, probably don’t see themselves as being b.s.

      Is driving a Ford F150, or whatever the hell you call it, necessary? Not really. By extension, does the guy who builds these trucks in the factory have a b.s. job?

      On another note, I’ve had my mode of earning a living described as b.s. by people in the finance industry. You just have to walk away from those sorts of people. You can’t be baited into a silly argument. It was my understanding that capitalist let “the market” decide what it wants to buy. Is it b.s. to go out and sell the market something, even if some jerk thinks that something is b.s.? Some jerk who thinks they are somehow superior because what is for sale is not to his taste?

      Although I do not begrudge the man who can sell books, questions like these have kept me from reading Graebor. They also help me to not rag on people who buy iPhones. (A popular theme here on Wolfstreet.)

      • phoenix says:

        “They also help me to not rag on people who buy iPhones” The commentariat here seem to generally be of a more advanced age and frequently out of touch. It’s painfully obvious in some of the tropes/anecdotes they trot out incessantly. This isn’t a dig because that point of view can be valuable but there is a generational gap at play for sure

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        It’s not about iPhones (or iStuff) per se, it’s about the ridiculous cachet pricing.

        • Zantetsu says:

          The fact that you would call it ‘ridiculous cachet pricing’ means you entirely and completely missed his point, which was a good one.

    • Engin-ear says:

      I liked the book. It is more a social satire (Mark Twain style story telling) than an economic value analysis…

      Worth reading!


  15. MonkeyBusiness says:

    It will end badly for the 90%.

    Get used to it. In a 3rd world country (which the US is rapidly becoming), it always ends badly for the 90%.

    A friend of mine who used to live in Jakarta, Indonesia used to “joke” that “Jakarta is coming to the US”. Looks like he’s proven right after all.

    1. Huge discrepancy between the rich and have nots.
    2. Rich people live in compounds guarded by the security apparatus.
    3. Going to the mall requires a bomb check at the entrance.

    You think living standards can’t fall more in the US? I bet you they can and it’s going to be super rapid.

    • Fred says:

      People–not only in this country, but also worldwide–have never had the brains to claim more individually enforceable rights. Individuals enforcing rights is the only way to stop social deterioration. And the power structure of this country knows it and will do anything to stop an increase of individually enforceable rights. Right to medical care? NEVER! Even when the Supreme Court, in Sebelius, said that everyone will one day need medical care–an acknowledgment that medical care is an unchanging fact of human experience–they still did not find a right to medical care. Medical care still enjoys only minimum scrutiny (look it up) under the Constitution. I assume you knew that. If you didn’t, you have a LOT of self-educating to do. Wake up.

      If you closely read Federal laws which establish or increase benefits of any kind, you will see that they always include the statement that the legislation does not increase individually enforceable rights. You are STILL dependent on what the political system decides will be the medical care, housing, education, income, employment, you get. Even though the Federal Government is a party in at least 50% of the transactions in this country.

      The Federal Government makes this country what it is, not you. If there are problems in this country, it is because the Federal Government has decided that problem will exist. Period.

      • Engin-ear says:


        I would prefer you replace the word “rights” by “needs recognized as legitimate”.

        I think it is better to grasp the reality.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Engin-concur. Those needs evolve and morph over time. Tools once only for the well-off eventually become vital to general societal functions (railroads/electricity/telephone/automobile-rapid distance transit/freeways/internet/cell phones/what they have generated, as examples). The needs generated would indicate future implementation of same as a public utilities when necessity of scale vs. efficiency becomes too large for a truly competitive market allowed by contemporary technology . Those doing the initial investing/development have in the past, and would probably, and not unreasonably now, resist this model to the utmost. Long-term, how long do we as a nation/world live/thrive without a broad middle economic class in what appears as a reversion to 1890’s ‘robber baron’ capitalism without either a ‘trust-busting’ TR, or, if left too long, nationalization? Discuss.

          Back now to extending the defensible space. Y’all stay safe and well,

          and-may we all find a better day…

        • Engin-ear says:

          @91B20 1stCav (AUS)

          My point was less deep.

          I see regularly people confuse the Rights with Entitlement.

          My belief is that the Rights are the Life goals you are authorized to have.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Engin: ‘Rights as entitlements’, a well-put point that raises semantic questions. Brushed over this a few Wolf-topics ago wondering if the Founders, had they been able to look forward and truly comprehend the changes in society wrought 200 years in the future, might have placed a ‘Bill of Responsibilities’ alongside of the Bill of Rights.

          Stay safe and well.

          and-may we all find a better day.

      • Mira says:

        In Victoria the health care system does not work .. the Governments federal & state feed hundreds of millions into the system & it disappears in prompt fashion & so does anything that is not nailed down.
        I had a 10 day stay at St Vinnies hospital Fitzroy 2017 .. I was to have a heart By-pass operation .. day 11 I was sent home .. ?? .. It costs $2,000 per day to stay in hospital .. so St Vinnies made their money without giving me an operation .. others get to stay in hospital 10 days & get a $20.000 operation as well.
        A $20.000 extra expenditure ..
        The excuse .. no operating theatres available .. of the 2 operating theatres that exist at St Vinnies .. as we are led to believe .. in fact there are copious operating theatres available.
        The surgeons do not want to work .. is the problem
        A MASSIVE WASTE .. of hard earned Tax Payer Dollars .. everyone’s valuable time .. the health of the patient.
        Which only adds to the BILL.
        Run correctly . as a business .. Healthcare is a lucrative business .. but why should the well to do medical profession work .
        And therefore we have no healthcare.

    • Just Some Random Guy says:

      “2. Rich people live in compounds guarded by the security apparatus.”

      I lived in a guard gated community in the early 2000s. I bought the house for $350K. All this time I was rich and didn’t know it. LOL

      • Ed says:

        The full picture — guarded enclaves, giant wealth discrepancies, armored cars, private schools, private security everywhere — is how they live in S. America.

        It’s a kind of dystopia. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the individuals living in a guarded compound. It’s just that guarded compounds are a symptom of inequality.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Well I didn’t say “guard gated”, but I notice you like twisting facts. By “security apparatus” I really meant, people with machine guns.

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          Oh I’m supposed to read minds on what you meant? Next time write what you mean. And besides, I think, but I don’t remember for sure it was a while ago, the guards where I lived were armed. Not with machine guns though, lol. Woulda been kinda cool though.

          And then within the gated community there were some areas that were double gated. That is you had to go through a second set of gates to get in.

          My point is there’s nothing new about this. There have always been dangerous criminals among us and people want to protect themselves from those people. Also why ADT and Ring and SimpliSafe exist.

        • Zantetsu says:

          JSRG generally doesn’t read the same things we read. He has a filter that spontaneously creates content and removes content to fit his world view, and it is that corrupted version of the article/post that he is responding to.

        • MCH says:

          sounds like a recipe for a disaster (or a zombie movie) unless the guys with the machine guns happen to live in the compound.

      • Fat Chewer. says:

        I think you are rich and you do know it. You just pretend to be just some regular guy to get a bit of cover for your obvious trolling. How much is that house in that hated, um… i mean, gated community worth today? A lot more than $350k.

        • Petunia says:

          I’ve lived in a few gated communities, none of them rich, just middle class. They exist to benefit the real estate interests. They are not particularly safer because they can’t control who the residents let in. Most are a nuisance to live in, more fees, another remote for the gate, lists for visitors…..

        • Just Some Random Guy says:

          That house todays is probably $700-800K. Hardly “rich”.

      • Erich says:

        One of my lifelong hobbies is Science Fiction and when I saw your post I immediately thought of Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash” and the term “Burbclaves”. Now it’s probably been at least 10 years since I last read that novel but I have it on the shelf right behind me. If you’ve read this novel you’ll know it paints a pretty vivid picture of our future.

  16. Paul C says:

    There’s a lot of fraud going on in the PUA and PEUC programs you shouldn’t even count it. A friend of mine told me his daughter informed him how to do this by submitting false statements that they are baby sitters etc and out of work its all bullshit.

    • The Rage says:

      Be happy it’s ending. Not bad for a small business. Get a lump sum of money, close down. Can fart in your couch drinking beer the next 6 months.

    • Stephen C. says:

      When did babysitters start to file with the IRS. Have things really gotten that bad? I’m really beginning to smell rotten fish on this babysitter fraud meme.

      • phoenix says:

        it’s funny how they all follow the same script. like can’t these people vary their fraud anecdotes at least a little? This is the second time in this comment section that someone has trotted this out. smh

  17. The Rage says:

    Unemployment dropped in August as the I95/5 areas reopened. This was expected. With PPP gone, unemployment will rise again in the 4th quarter.

    The economy is open now. The next phase is lifting restrictions, which likely won’t occur to the spring.

  18. Just Some Random Guy says:

    As long as the fed UE money keeps flowing, people have no incentive to work. Everywhere I go I see help wanted signs, but those jobs pay less than UE. So they go unfilled.

    • lenert says:

      In cases of worker shortages the solution is pretty simple – raise wages. US workers have been underpaid for decades.

      • Bead says:

        Got to raise prices to raise wages. Best of luck!

        • Fat Chewer. says:

          Oh? So they can subsidise corporations, but not wages. It figures. People need to understand that this is our economy and we could do things like that without causing harm; if only we could believe it’s possible. There are plenty of ways to do this designed by very knowledgeable people who are never listened to. The ideological shackles make it impossible.

      • Just Some Random Guy says:

        People can make $50K doing nothing and collecting UE. That’s $25/hr. Hard to make a profit paying $25+ an hour for unskilled labor.

    • Josap says:

      EU in Az is max $265.00 wk. Max. And you pay State and Fed taxes on what you receive. People need to eat and have a roof over their heads, EU won’t cover it. Even a rat trap of an apartment in a bad area will run $800.00 mo. utilities not included.

      The extra $600. wk helped many stay home while we kept away from each other to stop the virus. Well, ok. That didn’t happen. The lower amount for a short period of time will pay the rent and keep the lights on. After that people will be living in their cars if they haven’t been repoed.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Unlike a home foreclosure with a fixed address it is possible to drive ahead of the repo man.

  19. Robert says:

    Any Canadians want to chime in to give us yanks an understanding of what what kind of government assistance you are getting.

    I’m sure it’s generous.

    • Augusto says:

      We Canadians are no different than you guys. I know so many business people who can’t get workers back to work, especially part time workers, because the government pays them more to stay at home and play video games than their employers can. I think all our subsidy programs have been extended to the end of year, although the government keeps extending and adding new programs. The only people who get nothing are those who are still working or financially independent. So if you actually work, save money or contribute to society, well you get to pay even more in taxes in the future for all this nonsense, without even a thank you. Our unionized government workers, such as teachers, were furloughed home at full pay, and not surprising are looking for any excuse not to come back to the class room or get more time off. All that being said, a lot of jobs are gone for good and are not coming back.

      • Robert says:

        You didn’t mention how much people were actually getting in assistance. It sounds like Canadian companies are underpaying their employees. If people want to stay home and play video games it’s because they have crappy jobs with low pay.

        This finger pointing is tiresome when the power-elite are making billions.

        • Augusto says:

          We have a $15 an hour minimum wage here, and very good benefits (health care is free here in Canada or ain’t you heard?). When someone makes more from staying at home with that minimum wage you know there is a problem, and the problem is them. I am old fashioned enough to think that people should work and look after themselves when they are perfectly capable of doing so. If they have crappy jobs, there are lots of ways to improve themselves and their skills, and contribute rather than take from society. Its called being better citizens. As to finger pointing, you just did, “power-elite”, my aXX, most working people, even minimum wage ones want to work and are happy to be back at work. The lazy can stay at home and blame the billionaires if they want, they just shouldn’t expect everyone else to pick up after them (which no doubt Mommy and Daddy are doing anyways).

      • eg says:

        This is a terrible description of the Canadian situation. Those ineligible for EI could apply for the CERB, which was $2000 a month; students were eligible for the CESB, which was $1250 a month (for May, June, July and August).

        There are also supports for businesses to pay their employees, in order to avoid massive layoffs.

        These programs are all taxable, so lurid stories of fraudulent claimants are rubbish — any such “leakage” all comes back via the CRA. Teachers were never furloughed — they kept teaching from home.

        The rest of Augusto’s post are the tired, macroeconomically illiterate narratives of talk radio.

        The point of the income supports to individuals and business was demand maintenance, and they are working. The danger will be thoughtless removal of them before regular economic activity is even possible. The programs are due to be modified, and it’s definitely going to be a challenge for the Federal government to get this right.

    • td says:

      The main difference is that a much smaller percentage went to corporations. Also, the Employment Insurance system is federal and not too bad system-wise, so that money has flowed with relatively minor hiccups. Nothing like the situation in states like Florida where the system is designed to discourage people from applying and there are a lot of applications still unprocessed.

      I agree that the amounts were too generous for individuals, but those who think there are huge numbers of jobs waiting in hospitality, travel, etc. are dreaming in colour. For every opening going unfilled because of excessive benefits, there’s probably a few jobs gone forever.

    • Optimist_Tim says:


      Unemployment Insurance in Canada is about $1000 (CAD) net take home pay (maximum) every 2 weeks. There is another plan called CERB that is similar, for people unemployed by the COVID situation.

  20. KurtZ says:

    Watching my backyard. As Boeing goes, so goes the PNW.

    They raised 25bil from Uncle Sam (the bond market) and their burn rate is 6bil a month. My prediction is that the shuttering of Everett and the rest of the commercial airline business will be the second week of November.
    Mark my word, BA will quit the commercial airline industry this fall.

    The agreement was hammered out between all the fake billionaires in the room, lorded over by Mark Esper (ex-BA)

  21. Al Loco says:

    Aren’t the states incentivised to allow anyone to claim UE because they will get tax revenue from the PUA?

    • Stephen C. says:

      Interesting concept! I doubt we’ll get any info on the in the MSM. Maybe Wolf can look into that?

      “Aren’t the states incentivised to allow anyone to claim UE because they will get tax revenue from the PUA?”

      • Wolf Richter says:

        OK, a state may get 5% or 7% of taxable income from someone. So this guy gets $1,600 a month in PUA for a few months. And he now makes less money than he made when he was working. How much in taxes is the state going to collect from him because of PUA? It’s going to be small, if any, and probably does not incentivize states to jump through hoops.

  22. Augusto says:

    Wolf, one comment I would make as an accountant and auditor relates to the reliance on numbers. Once one believes the system or processes that produce those numbers are flawed, corrupt and not reliable, how can one believe some numbers that system produces but not others? Its a bit of the same problem I have with people claiming that China’s government’s numbers are fake one minute, nothing but propaganda, but touting them the next when they match their (negative) viewpoint or fit their narrative. I appreciate you reworking these unemployment numbers trying to identify trends, but I am sceptical. Reworking bad data produced by flawed and varied methodologies risks what we used to (professionally?) call, “garbage in, garbage out”.

    • lenert says:

      One can always look at Employment Rate: Aged 25-54 All Persons for the US.

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        Can’t trust the news media, nearly all propagandists with agendas.

        Can’t trust survey data, people don’t answer surveys reliably.

        Can’t trust basic “how many claims did you pay out” state-level data, because the states don’t count the same way, don’t have incentives to do so, and have political conflicts of interest as well. Especially in a major election year.

        Could look at IRS tax receipt data and Debt to the Penny.

        Could look at private reports from national businesses (but need to gauge whether shifts in data are genuine trends or company-specific issues).

        Could look around your own town and look for “help wanted” signs vs. reports of distress from your extended social network. Is it really so bad where you are, or not?

    • Wolf Richter says:


      Imho, this unemployment claims data, as flawed as it may be, is the least flawed unemployment data out there. As accountant, you know that accounting uses estimates for a whole bunch of things, including very important big-ticket things, because no hard data is available. So you work with the best (least “garbage”) numbers you can get.

  23. Ed says:

    All of this economic pain is happening while the corporate and Federal debt loads are at crazy records.

    Corporate debt has gone from approximately $2T in 2005 to over $7T this year. Federal debt seems to have gone from approximately $8T in 2005 to almost $27T now. I squinted at the several charts, so please excuse if I am off by $0.5T.

    How can the Fed ever raise rates?

    What does it mean for the Fed rate to stay low for years? I suppose it means we should all hold our noses and stay in the stock market, but I have a hard time when my favorite investments sport a 90 P/E.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Buying equities used to be based upon expectations of company performance, essentially sales less costs. Now it is a religion based on belief. You know, like the Great Pumpkin, Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy.

  24. Brant Lee says:

    The real UI numbers are so bad, even the Dems won’t bring them out correctly so they can embarrass the other party. The Unemployment charts above most likely will flat-line now as we begin to enter some real stagnation this Winter. How could job numbers rise significantly now?

  25. Prof. Emeritus says:

    I haven’t lived in 1929, but this whole mess is increasingly starting to look like what I learned about the Great Depression. Everyone on the market is acting as if the crisis is just about to end tomorrow, whereas the data clearly shows that this downturn won’t go away in a blink of an eye, but may be here to stay for a few more years.
    All I need to figure out is what were the winning strategies during those dire times.

    • lenert says:

      Don’t be born before the New Deal?

    • Rosebud says:

      The depression era Winning strategy was to have a restaurant. It fed you, your family and important connections in the neighbourhood, while it allowed an outlet for the disaster you took in the stock market. Just read Lee Ioccacas book.

      This time, look for Edgar Cayce online, and don’t let him fail you.

    • Petunia says:

      After the 1929 crash cash was king, as it would be in any deflationary period.

  26. Jdog says:

    If you continue to reward people for not working, they will continue to not work… Human nature…

  27. kitten lopez says:

    (Wolf i need some leeway here)

    i don’t know/have a winning strategy but to try and get ahead of this thing. that said, the badass non-internet entrepreneurs are getting slaughtered right now, with no one in The Real World set to take their place.

    this is Einstein’s “can’t solve a problem with the consciousness that started it” playing out in real time.

    i can’t explain a lot of things that’re happening here, or anywhere on the internet or publicly, until it’s long after the fact. but i know what i’m here for now finally.

    one of the things is to try and fight for Real World Community again, but what does that look like in an age of internet? how do you do a blend?

    Motorcycle Steve twisted my neck and he may not know it but when he drove all the way cross country to go to The Wolf Meet, it meant that we all had a baby i couldn’t now casually abandon, no matter how much i might’ve had tantrums on Wolf off-side. i had to come back because… fuschia has something to do it and i cannot even begin to explain.

    i feel like i’m part of some bigger story. i’m here in SERVICE to some bigger idea.

    and thus i put my intentions here in the midst of The Future, because the minds congregate HERE, even and especially in silence / but i tap into you because i’ve had three huuuuge magical boomerang things come at me unbeknownst to ME!

    meaning that seeds planted years ago are sprouting so now my confidence at being “off” is way high. i love lightning in the middle of the night and babies falling from the sky into Turkish laps, or red skies at noon…

    anything can happen and there are no adults.


    three things, three COMMUNITIES are mine to help build. one is my vision for making local community arts/economies are to also help my favorite radio station, KPOO, have an annual ball or Family Reunion for all who’ve been kicked out of the radio signal. so i aim to start an annual ball for people to dress up to (bring respect and show back to going out in california), meet each other in person with us elders pushing youngsters together so they can learn how to be adorable instead of creepy swipers.

    i also ended up back at the gym and that’s its OWN magic i’m not yet ready to share because it’s deep like KPOO.

    and Wolf Richter is my other commitment (unbeknownst to even him), and helping keep some annual entrepreneurial “we’re on our own” conversations going.

    i even have a fantasy of flying Petunia in and putting her up at someone’s house with an extra room, if she’s willing. i’d love to have a fundraising thing to have spots for a few different people to come out when it’s okay and if anyone’s into this.

    this is most definitely old Quaker hippie memories i have from growing up. we lived in the basement while my mom went to grad school in west virginia (chas.), and she rented the top but we lived in the bottom, on the side of a hill, and we always opened the table and invited strangers met through the Quakers or other organizations.

    so i say this here because Motorcycle Steve “dared me” by merely showing up. he dared me to do ANYTHING. i don’t know if he ever read my work, but in MY world, someone does something epic in love or style or art, you STEP UP to honor THEM.

    it’s also how i believe we oughta’ love each other. instead of the beat down and “see? you NEEEEED ME!” / it’s “look what YOU can do!” joy.

    so Motorcycle Steve, it’s been a long time for me to raise my bet, and i’m here telling you, i’m meeting you. not to beat you, but to inspire OTHERS here to start thinking of ways to make this site not just be a money-making site while we fuck our country, our world, face down dry and to death.

    i don’t know any other way but fuck the aspen institute of eichmann whores.. these are some of the sharpest minds of my generation right HERE.


    Wolf knows exactly what that means and i raise his fuschia, too.

    so that’s what i aim to do. turn this into a weekend of hanging out when we want, but conversations ideas investments new strategies.

    because i don’t know about you all but i’ve been trying to figure out ways of getting Petunia alone in room since i first read her snappy answers to stupid comments.

    so i have no answers but i know a bunch of people who likely will eventually…

    so there./ that’s my new Intention here. my new focus. i don’t have to court be coy instigate mystery or drama. there’s enough of that just in the desire for a new WAY.

    because if we leave it up to people who’re running shit now without coming up with some para system offline, we’re fucked.

    and let the FBI infiltrate. i’m not proposing anything illegal. that’ll happen on its own on the low already. i’m proposing creative approaches to what we cannot change.

    and as i said, here at this site be some of the sharpest cleverest minds of my generation. / i don’t care when Petunia was born… i want the people who made it to the Promised Land and learned the patois and how they think and what they’ll do so we can make a play ahead of it.

    Petunia is MY quarterback i wanna huddle with right now, so i’ll panhandle for her plane or train fare here. she knows things VooDoo people have to dance shake and spit to see.

    she has no investment in anything going on NOW. / anyone still doing okay in this system would do well to listen to her now for your own Later. i’m playing catch-up, myself.

    but Pigs are Flying like craaaazy. / i’m ready!


    • Petunia says:


      I’m always humbled by your opinion of me. I don’t have magical answers to any of life’s problems. I’ve just seen a lot of shit and paid attention. As much as I would like to meet you and Wolf, going to SF during this mess is something I don’t look forward to, in spite of your kind and generous invitation.

      Keep documenting this disaster in your own special way, I look forward to reading your posts.

      • kitten lopez says:

        who said “during this mess”? / but okay. (smile) i wouldn’t come here either, if i didn’t already LIVE here.

        regarding “documenting” anything, i’m finding writing more and more tedious because i don’t care about screaming or “documenting” (for whom? the last dozen or so people left in the future who aren’t swiping and snorting and can read or think in coherent sentences?); so forget “documenting” or even arguing or proposing anything online. i’m feeling like online is where EVERYTHING and EVERYONE goes to die.

        to my total mind-blown amazement, all of the sudden, crazy and sweet stuff is happening in Real Life on the low for me, and barely above ground, so i’m only seeing Future Stuff right now.

        i think people realizing no one knows what they’re doing, along with things going tits up, it’s gonna get fun again. / at least interesting.

        i’ve been writing the head of my gym trying to get him to rebel against the gov’t and get all the other gym owners to say they’re a “gov’t” gym and let us wear “gov’t employee” nametags, or have salons open for people who wear “nancy pelosi” name tags.

        you all know how i love my name tags.

        okay, Petunia. but i heard you about video-ing you in. now we’ve got that zoom thing.

        and you have different ways of seeing AHEAD and knowing how TPTB THINK. / if that isn’t “magic,” i don’t need whatever else passes for it then.


      • kitten lopez says:

        i think where your power is Petunia, is that you’re better than most at seeing unlikely or unusual alliances, and therefore entirely new ideas, visions, negotiations.

        like how the landlord earlier negotiated with his tenants to work WITH them as partners, instead of some people to rape. (it was hella hard to impossible for me to be sympathetic to people who’d inherited 100 or so units)

        but i don’t want to own. i don’t want the hassles. i like renting if it’s not a beat down.

        so in the aftermath of the gutting of san francisco, i want to have discussions directly with people who want to negotiate with artists/entrepreneurs on what kind of community we want to make together, what kind of investments are people willing to make if they’re in their own community and they get something ELSE out of it besides anonymous returns on their investments?

        i believe in creative business people of yore. i aim to find them again.

        the third book in my trilogy of tomato, “Hoochie Mama: The Other White Meat,” was actually about fake trashing your community to keep it from getting gentrified. / and i ask, now that it’ll be trashed, how do we re-gentrify our own home again? and make “local” mean something again as well?

        i don’t know. these are the parties i want to throw so’s i can pose the questions and see what ideas and things people have or want.

        i think Petunia, you have insights to new modes of retail as well. how do we bring touch and the person back from internet shopping?

        i think you’d see alliances that would cut out middle men, which is what america’s business style is ENTIRELY about now–we don’t make things. we take the cuts of people who do.

        so that’s where i think you’re radical as well as magic. you’re natural and constant defiance makes me trust what you’re saying. you’re past wanting to belong or be “inside.”

        and if i ever do get to bring you (and your husband) out here, i’d do it up right. / i know about you and your rhinestone flip flops.


      • Petunia says:


        Regarding retailing, be very wary of what is starting to occur now with mall owners. The optimal idea would be for them to coop the malls and sell out to retailers. Instead, the big mall owners are starting to buyout retailers in bankruptcy. It’s a vertical integration where they will control the mall, the stores, the merchandise, and eventually who is allowed to buy. The mark of the beast. I’m not kidding about the beast part, I know these guys.

        If you look at my response to BEARDAWG above, I alluded to knowing the music business better than I like to admit. My misspent youth was spent in the music clubs of NYC, the real underground, not the one bragged about in the society pages. I learned a lot about being unplugged from watching that scene at an early age. The scene was old then and probably still going strong today, but it has always existed under the radar, even when it didn’t have to. That’s the secret going forward, just do it, be mobile, and stay unplugged.

        • kitten lopez says:

          wow… to ALL that. i read your posts like a dozen times when they’re to ME. / and i wondered what was up with hearing about Penney’s being bought by the mall????…

          but yeah, you’re on exactly what i’m about. i was loving your coop idea and wanted to find a way around the dance of us artists bringing life back to an area, only to get evicted out this time.

          i have to do MY little Basquiat/Warhol/Dapper Dan art clothing biz idea thing first, almost as an “example.” but my real secret “art” is going to be to try and cobble a newer, mutually beneficial idea–like this coop idea you’d mentioned–in a neighborhood where we, as a group of artists, pioneers, fun people–we help bring local life and RE values up so they can be at the vanguard of a good idea and do okay, but so do we.

          i’ll go read what you wrote about music industry because that’s also related. i want artists to do well in such a scene but also have a set of businesses they promote through.

          this is where i see working with other local venues around the country to set up our own concerts/events/tours without the gouging going on now. / it’s also why i’m all over KPOO and sometimes the DJs play music over the air for me to dance to at 24th/potrero and the ones who’re listening and see me, their heads practically pop off when they catch me on the beat!

          “that’s the secret to going forward, just do it, be mobile, and stay unplugged”

          THANK YOU I NEEDED THAT. because i’m doing that…

          man i can’t wait to have girl talk with you in real life about all the things i’ve done and am doing but won’t dare write because it’s like telling scary stories at a sleep over.


  28. Michael Engel says:

    1) The unemployment number is shortening it’s thrust. Early next
    year it will start to rise.
    2) Consumer spending on healthcare is down 10%, for the first time.
    3) People avoid their doctors and dentists at any cost.
    4) Being on zoom all day reduce car accidents and save lives. Get a CV19 discount from your car insurance co.
    5) Service by waitresses & barmen is thing of the past, making us less obese and healthier again.
    6) Elderly with chronic disease, with life expectation of 10 years, can die within few weeks.
    7) Schools and holidays are back and CV 19 will start a second round.

    • p coyle says:

      people avoid their doctors and dentists because of the cost, even sometimes when they have insurance.

  29. Knowsjack says:

    Where there is free money, there is demand.

  30. Lee says:

    So lots of comments, but nothing about these statements:

    “State & federal initial claims jumped to 1.7 million in the week”

    “Federal PUA claims jumped by 1.0 million”

    “This was driven by a jump of 1.55 million continued claims in California.”

    So if total claims rose by 1.7 million and 1.55 million of that was just in California that must mean the the rest of the USA had .15 million increase in claims.

    Last report also had a huge increase in numbers in California as well.

    So if you take out California the increase in numbers for the rest of the country don’t seem too bad at all.

    Of course, if you have backlogged data that changes everything, but I’m wondering with the numbers from California if there are more claims that working people in the state………………………………

    • Wolf Richter says:


      The 1.7 million were “initial” claims, by people who’d just gotten laid off. These are unrelated to “continued claims.”

      “Federal PUA claims jumped by 1.0 million” = continued claims. “…a jump of 1.55 million continued claims in California” = continued claims.

      So you cannot do this math: “So if total claims rose by 1.7 million and 1.55 million of that was just in California that must mean the rest of the USA had .15 million increase in claims.”

      But you can do this math: continued PUA claims jumped by 1 million, and CA’s continued PUA claims jumped by 1.55 million. So continued PUA claims by all other states fell by 550,000.

      Note that Florida has still not processed ANY continued PUA claims… those are still coming.

      • Lee says:

        So in other words California is still dragging down the numbers big time and then if and when Florida gets its act together it will do the same.

        Still wonder how California can have such huge numbers week after week.

        Does anybody in California still work or have a job or is everybody there on some kind of payment from the government?

        • Wolf Richter says:

          California’s population of about 40 million, and its labor force around 19 million people. So when you see these big unemployment numbers, you have to keep the size of the state in mind.

  31. jon says:

    Unemployment rate is going up and up and so are home prices.

  32. Diego says:

    What’s the story behind State claims decreasing while Federal claims are increasing?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      One factor is that states were not set up to process these PUA claims, and so there was a HUGE backlog, and now they’re catching up with the backlog. Some states, like Florida, still are not showing any “continued” PUA claims. They’re still stuck somewhere.

  33. Michael Engel says:

    1) USTEC (NDX Futures), 30 min, on the right hand side of the chart :
    A Bearish Divergence at the top/ a Bullish Divergence at the bottom.
    2) QQQ 30 min, with a cloud : x2 large volatility air bubbles (gaps). They are still open.
    3) A Selling Climax (SC) on Set 4, with a huge buying tail. QQQ
    moved up to AR, blew up, opening a huge gap.
    4) Yesterday the closed was at the low. Today QQQ gap up, to a lower high. On the way down QQQ was hugging the cloud, from below. The clous was resistance.
    5) A HQ large red bar at 2 PM sent QQQ diving the SC.
    7) QQQ daily is a HQ big red, engulf, on the same volume. Something is wrong. QQQ pricked dma50, but closed above. That’s a good sign.
    8) QQQ daily flipped on Sept 3.
    9) SPX weekly stopped above Feb 18/ 24 gap. SPX Sept momentum pale in comparison to the Feb momentum.
    10) NYA & IWM weekly are stuck osc inside the cloud.

    • Zantetsu says:

      Read tea leaves. It will be more useful, and you can choose even more descriptive and exotic names for patterns you see in the leaves than you can for relatively constrained price lines.

  34. Cobalt Programmer says:

    haven’t been here for a long time…
    People still invest in stocks, houses and gold because,

    1. FOMO, they still think the economy is growing at a linear phase.
    2. knows there is a decline but want to purchase at the lower offered price
    3. People suspect an inflation is on the horizon.

    Due to COVID and the decline of the empire, FED will print a huge amount of money. This will cause inflation (sometimes deflation depending on you are living in Zimbabwe or USA). People are still invested in stocks or purchase a house because, when FED prints their own money, what does common people have a hedge? Only way is to invest in a house or stocks or 401K (passive investing). Think about this in another terms. Gold is useful if you are in India or ME. Gold is useless in USA. Land of USA is the real assent every one wants. If you own a land in USA mainland or territory, then you can hedge against any money, rubles or renbibi (money of the people). No matter what, People will buy stocks and homes or land in USA. Invest in these. Do not sell any stocks or gold or homes or land you own.

    • Jon says:

      Large number of people unemployed is deflationary not inflationary

      Lots of money printed would go to rich people and they’d horde it

    • Flyover says:

      Inflation on the horizon? Its already here. Shop building supplies….if you can find them. I have 4-6 week wait time on some of our plumbing supplies that they usually have to me in 2 days.

      The flight from the woke cities has not stopped out here in flyover.
      No shortage of those hiring signs. A few days of rain & cold temps, have flushed a few new laborers back to their parents basement. Not sure how you can own all the outdoor toys and gear, and only last a week on the job.

      • Jon says:

        Even the housing market is on fire. But wait for few months for the deflation to kick in unless the Govt keeps sending money to people.

  35. sierra7 says:

    Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock…..to Oct 1, 2020……Tick Tock!

  36. _dude says:

    1st graph looks V-shaped to me \o/

  37. Lisa_Hooker says:

    For many years it has been oft repeated: “may you live in interesting times.” Well, here we are.

    On the other hand, the Congress singing ‘Kumbaya’ together is not an economic strategy.

  38. Ather says:

    Thanks for your easy to understand reporting to better understand this horrific unemployment problem.

    Two Questions please:
    Q1: why don’t the media at large represent these facts accurately or simply adopt yours if they can’t do their own homework?
    Q2; are the 12M figures in this article included in yours or separate/additional and yet to be accounted for since still pending:

    • Wolf Richter says:


      I’ll have a crack at question 2. The data I report is “claims.” These are people who recently filed for UI or have already filed for UI and continue to claim it.

      The automated claims that have no problems and no discrepancies apparently sail through quickly, and claimants get paid quickly.

      But states are behind in processing the complicated claims, such as claims where the employment office needs to verify something, or if there is a discrepancy between the data that the employer submitted and the data that the claimant submitted. In these cases, the employment office needs to figure this out before they make payments. But they’re understaffed, and this drags out for weeks. So you get these large numbers of unpaid claims that are hung up because of some issue that hasn’t been resolved yet.

      • Ather says:

        Thanks, Wolf, I understood your answer here above as “those 12M are indeed included in your ~30M” since they’ve submitted the UI applications, even if some may not yet be getting the $ but will as soon as the process competes.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Yes. Sort of. Some of those 12M might have gotten jobs meanwhile, and no longer claim UI, and are no longer part of the UI claims data, but still haven’t gotten paid UI, but will eventually be paid. Lots of stories like these.

  39. Scott Bailey says:

    Wolf, I work for the state of Washington Employment Security Department as a labor economist. The UI system is quite complex. I’ve had to learn a lot over the past few months. Some key points:

    Anyone who wants to get into the PUA program has to file a regular initial claim first. So PUA initial claims are essentially a subset of regular initial claims. So it is not valid to add PUA initials and regular initials.

    There are two types of initial claims, new initial claims and additional initial claims. New claims are just that, they are filed by someone newly unemployed, just entering the UI system. If approved, claimants can then file continued claims to get benefits. Additional initial claims are generated by the system (not the claimant) when someone who has been claiming UI has a spell of employment and then files another continued claim to resume benefits. Currently in the state of Washington about half of initial claims are new, half are additional. So it is NOT valid to add up all the initial claims over the past six months to get a “total unemployed” number. There will be a ton of double- or triple-counting. Some claimants are on and off work frequently during a period of slow or unstable need by the employer(s), each time the claimant goes from not collecting UI for one or more weeks to collecting for a week with any employment since their last UI compensation it is considered a new IC – a new period of unemployment.

    Initial claims are not the same as unemployment. Some people file an initial claim but then do not lose their job. Also, we had a ton of PEUC initial claims when that program started, and relatively few translated into PEUC continued claims. In Washington, we allowed claimants to file for PEUC regardless as to how many weeks were remaining on their UI claim, many of the PEUC extensions are set up but will never be used as the claimants will never exhaust their regular UI.

    You are absolutely correct about backlogs and other duplication issues. You cite Florida lacking PUA continued claims numbers. Closer to my neck of the woods, Oregon was in the same boat until a month or two ago. Every week in our weekly continued claims total reported to the Dept. of Labor there are multiple claims from individuals from prior weeks. In Washington we were lucky that we invested in a new computer system a few years ago, and so were able to process PUA and PEUC claims right away. We had a substantial fraud issue in mid-May that led to a backlog that has been whittled away. Currently claims that are not processed immediately are those that are not straightforward, e.g. include out-of-state earnings where we require validation from another state (which can take a while).

    None of this is to downplay the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in. Unemployment is high, many of those still employed have taken a cut in hours. Many people were on the edge before the recession, and are in even more dire straights now. The end of FPUC (the extra $600 per week) hurt a lot of people. Food pantries have long lines. And so on. And of course people of color and low-income whites have been hit the hardest.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Scott Bailey,

      Thanks for your explanation. But you may have misread my article.

      I never added up all the initial claims going back weeks or months. And I have never said they represent “unemployment” or anything like that. Not sure where you got this.

      The first and main chart is about continued claims (not initial claims). I don’t add up the continued claims either — it’s the number that the DOL reports.

      I did add one week’s state initial claims and the same week’s PUA initial claims = 1.7 million that week, way down in the article (below the second chart).

      I have called it data chaos from day one: huge backlogs, massive under-counting, catch-up efforts with spikes in numbers, fraud, ineptitude, confusion, old data systems, over-counting…

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