Friday, May 08, 2020

How bad is unemployment really?

Detailed discussion at the NYT...

Bottom line; the 14.7% number is certainly low. The real number for April is close to 20%. That does not include what has happened in May and there are anticipated corrections for the first quarter coming as well. So unemployment is at its highest level since 1940 when it was hovering around 20% until FDR and Congress reinstated the military draft in October. John Williams over at Shadow Stats puts unemployment for April at 19.5%. My SWAG (scientific wild ass guess) is that we will probably hit bottom around mid summer with unemployment at >25%. Due to the ripple effects of mass unemployment and the need for continued social distancing likely to last well into 2021 I am not seeing much that supports Wall Street's expectation for a V shaped recovery. One can never be sure about the future, but part of my definition for a depression is unemployment of 20% or higher, with sustained unemployment above 15% for at least two years. At this point, I think that is more likely than not.

On a sad note one of my favorite chain restaurants, Sweet Tomatos, won't be reopening. Add another 4000+ to the ranks of the unemployed. We will be seeing a lot more of this.

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