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Marketplace Tech
Fallout: The Financial Crisis

Jobless claims at a 26-year high

Janet Babin Feb 19, 2009
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Steve Chiotakis: It is an indicator we watch every week, and it continues to underscore this fallout from the financial crisis. The Labor Department reports that while new jobless claims are relatively unchanged from last week, the figure is still at a 26-year high. And the number of people continuing to claim benefits just hit an all-time high. From North Carolina Public Radio, here’s Marketplace’s Janet Babin.


Janet Babin: More than 600,000 people filed new claims for jobless benefits last week. But what’s really staggering are the Labor Department figures on the total number of people receiving unemployment: just under 5 million.

That’s the number that sticks out for economist Diane Swonk at Mesirow Financial in Chicago:

Diane Swonk: Close to 5 million people, really a disturbing number there, and really underscoring how weak this economy is. We think we’re losing somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs a day.

Swonk says even when recovery comes — and she says it will — the unemployment numbers will stay high, because businesses in recent years have been slow to rehire after recessions.

The government also says today wholesale prices rose last month. That can be an indication of rising inflation, but Swonk says it was just a blip. The Federal Reserve expects inflation to remain low this year, and for unemployment to hover close to 9 percent.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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