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Unemployment @ Record Levels since 1982 in USA

Unemployment @ Record Levels since 1982 in USA

Unemployment @ Record Levels since 1982 in USA

U.S. jobless claims highest in more than 26 years
42 mins ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits surged to a nearly 26-1/2 year high last week, data showed on Thursday, indicating that the pace of job losses was yet to peak.

At the same time, the number of laid-off workers collecting state unemployment benefits jumped to a record high in March, the Labor Department said, as the recession now in its 16th month makes it tough to find a new job.

New applications for state jobless insurance benefits rose 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 in the week ended March 28, the highest since the week ending October 2, 1982, from an upwardly revised 657,000 the week before.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 650,000 new claims versus a previously reported count of 652,000 the prior week.

U.S. stock index futures pared gains after the data, while government bond prices held steady at lower levels.

“We have been seeing not just an elevated trend but an increasing trend. That is not good. We know the labor market is going to be a lagging indicator, but we need to see the pace of job losses moderate soon if we are going to get a recovery,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Highlighting the difficulties of getting a new job, the number of people staying on the benefits roll after collecting an initial week of aid surged 161,000 to 5.73 million in the week ended March 21, the latest week for which the data is available, from 5.57 million the previous week.

This was the highest on record and lifted the insured unemployment rate to 4.3 percent, the highest since a matching 4.3 percent in the week ending May 21, 1983. The insured unemployment rate was at 4.2 percent in the week ended March 14.

“What it says to me is the persistence of unemployment,” said T.J. Marta, chief market strategist at Marta on the Markets in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

“It’s more of a structural reallocation of resources, which could be worse than anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression,” he said.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered to be a better gauge of underlying trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, climbed 6,500 to 656,750 in the week ending March 28, from 650,250. That was the highest reading since October 1982.


Record 19% Drop in U.S. Homes Prices in January 2009

Record 19% Drop in U.S. Home Appraised Values

Record 19% Drop in U.S. Home Appraised Values

US home prices drops set records in Jan.

By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Real Estate Writer Alan Zibel, Ap Real Estate Writer 15 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Home prices sank by the sharpest annual rate on record in January, and the pace continues to accelerate, but there were a handful of battered metro areas where price declines slowed, according to data released Tuesday.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major cities tumbled by a record 19 percent from January 2008. It was the largest decline since the index started in 2000. The 10-city index dropped 19.4 percent, also a new record.

All 20 cities in the report showed monthly and annual price declines, with 13 posting new annual records. Prices dropped by more than 10 percent in 14 cities. Faring better were Dallas, Denver and Cleveland, with annual price declines of around 5 percent.

“There are very few bright spots that one can see in the data,” David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee, said in a prepared statement. “Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path.”

In the Cleveland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Washington D.C. metro areas — all ravaged by foreclosures_ annual price declines eased somewhat. Meanwhile, six cities, including Minneapolis, Charlotte, Seattle and New York, showed smaller price declines in January compared with December.

Last week, the National Association of Realtors said sales of previously occupied homes unexpectedly jumped in February by the largest amount in nearly six years as first-time buyers took advantage of deep discounts on foreclosures and other distressed properties. Some economists say that could help moderate declines.

“We still think there is a good chance the rate of (price) decline will slow through the spring as existing home sales stabilize and perhaps pick up a bit, but foreclosures are weighing heavily on prices,” wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Prices in the 20-city index have plummeted 29 percent from their peak in summer 2006, while the 10-city index has fallen 30 percent. Prices have sunk back to levels not seen since late 2003, and analysts say the ultimate drop in prices could easily be 35 percent or greater in some metros.

To provide some relief, Congress in February passed a new $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and President Barack Obama is directing $75 billion to a new foreclosure prevention plan. But the success of those efforts could well depend on how far the U.S. economy falls.

Some slivers of hope about the economy buoyed consumers in March and consumer confidence crept upward for the first time in four months, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

“We have seen some signs of improvement in the economy, but they are subtle,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group.

Lennar Corp.’s chief executive also said there are some signs suggesting the housing market is beginning to stabilize, but he’s not projecting significant improvement for some time.

Stuart Miller blamed weak consumer confidence and competition from deeply discounted foreclosed properties for a 28 percent decline in new home orders in its most recent fiscal quarter.

But Miller told Wall Street analysts Tuesday there’s been a discernible uptick in sales this month, though believes it’s too early to say it’s a defining trend


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