Trump photo by Gage Skidmore (cropped), Creative Commons license 2.0

This week's unemployment numbers are out, and once again it's one of those good news-bad news things: The good news is that there were 40,000 fewer new claims for unemployment insurance than in the previous week. The bad news is that there were still 751,000 new unemployment claims, and that unemployment could still keep increasing as the latest wave of the coronavirus sweeps across the country. As Marketplace explains,

Rising confirmed virus cases in nearly every state, along with a cutoff in federal aid, are threatening to weaken the economy in the coming months. As temperatures fall, restaurants and bars will likely serve fewer customers outdoors. And many consumers may increasingly stay home to avoid infection. Those trends could force employers to slash more jobs during the winter.

Or MAYBE the virus will just vanish and everything will be fine. We've seen predictions that go either way.


The story on continuing unemployment — for people who have claimed unemployment benefits two weeks in a row or more — is also similarly mixed. The total of continuing claims dropped by 600,000, to 7.76 million Americans, but again Marketplace just has to be an un-American killjoy with its analysis:

The decline shows that some of the unemployed are being recalled to their old jobs or are finding new ones. But it also indicates that many jobless Americans have used up their state unemployment aid — which typically expires after six months — and have transitioned to a federal extended benefits program that lasts an additional 13 weeks.

And in fact, CNN notes that claims for those extended benefits, which were passed back in March as part of the CARES Act, are up by 387,000 as people exhausted regular unemployment.

All told, 22.7 million Americans were drawing one type or another of unemployment benefits for the week of October 10. That's roughly a seventh of the US workforce. Better than right after the economy went into shutdown to give the government time to prepare to deal with the pandemic, but still recovering very slowly, especially since, as you may have noticed, Donald Trump did nothing to actually control the pandemic, and his administration has now given up altogether.

But the Trump administration and supporters are simply giddy with delight over another economic number out today. The Commerce Department reported that the US Gross Domestic Product for the third quarter grew by 33.1 percent, a bit better than the 32 percent economists had predicted. That's a new record for economic growth, although maybe it's a bit premature to declare Donald Trump an economic genius. That's because the economy contracted by 31.4 percent in the second quarter due to the pandemic shutdown. Most of the growth was simply due to people and businesses starting to spend again. That spending was boosted, of course, by the $2 trillion stimulus in the CARES Act, much of which is now gone, and so far, there's no sign that Republicans are willing to spend a penny more on stimulus.

Not surprisingly, Trump was happy to take all the credit for the fantastic job he'd done, all on his own, for the economic equivalent of dropping an economy off a cliff and seeing it bounce some. But Trump only wants credit for the bounce part.

For a somewhat less frothy view, CNBC provides this chart of economic growth since the Great Recession, which shows more clearly that while third-quarter growth was very good, the economy still has a long way to go before it reaches pre-pandemic levels.


Why yes, that growth trend since the worst of the 2008-2009 recession was pretty much constant through both the Obama and Trump administrations, isn't that something? Come January, it should be interesting to see how that sharp uptick flattens out as the recovery slows and the pandemic keeps raging, particularly since the stimulus programs will be long gone by then. We'd make a joke here about how the unemployed could use the newspapers with that chart to cover themselves with when they sleep on park benches, but newspapers are gone and park benches have mostly had Cruelty Barriers added to them, the end.

For Crom's sake let's elect Joe Biden, get this fucking pandemic under control, and fix the economy for real.

[CNN / Marketplace / CNBC / Trump photo by Gage Skidmore (cropped), Creative Commons license 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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