A Simple Yet Comprehensive View Of America's Unemployed

Tyler Durden's picture

Lately there has been much back and forth over the definitions of (un)employment, of improving (deteriorating) trends therein, and of just what is going on with the labor pool in the U.S. Due to the lack of a definitive data series that tracks comprehensive unemployment over time, the possibility for loose interpretation exists and is (ab)used by many. In order to hopefully mitigate a lot of the debate on the margin, here is probably one of the more comprehensive charts available, which tracks Initial Claims, Continuing Claims and Emergency Unemployment Compensation (the last being somewhat notorious lately, and a datapoint that has to be considered due to the skyrocketing exhaustion rate) since 1967. Pretty simple. The result does not need much commentary.

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† h i n k f i s h's picture

What I see is all these new investors, in the market of investing in themselves.

theone's picture

Looks like the trend is still increasing. 

I expect it to move sideways for a while and then slowly declining due to people exhausting their unemployment benefits throughout the next year.

delacroix's picture

is that a hockey stick?

BorisTheBlade's picture

that was exactly my thought when I first saw Tyler's graph and looks like it is:


Anonymous's picture

That graph clearly shows a bottom is forming. Thank God.

Anonymous's picture

Almost fell off my chair reading that. You should be a comedian!

Anonymous's picture


TheGoodDoctor's picture

Yeah we truly need a sarcasm button or icon on here. :)

Mark Beck's picture

It would be interesting to plot Monthly Net Tax Revenues, perhaps inverted, on the same time line. You should see similar type of stimulus effects as we see in this data. 

Mark Beck

Sancho Panza's picture

I wonder what that graph would look like without the fiscal and monetary stimulus measuring 18% of GDP?

I can't wait for the money printing to end.  Or not...

awgee's picture

Why would the money printing end?

Sancho Panza's picture


Haven't you heard it's ending in Q1'10?

awgee's picture

Sorry.  I don't get out much.

Anonymous's picture

Has anyone factored in the plethera of Tiger whores now looking for work?

delacroix's picture

they will be eligible for extended benefits

Ned Zeppelin's picture

Didn't we already hear they received an "extended" benefit from Tiger himself?

Anonymous's picture

Yes, but the stimulus is wearing off and Tiger is going through a deflationary phase. Rumor has it that his recreational companions are trying to leverage their deposit and withdrawal experience into banking careers. My captcha answer was, appropriately, 69.

SimpleSimon's picture

Thought it would be a net wash - the out of work 'companions' replaced by reporters, lawyers, marriage counselors, security - but I was wrong.  The question now is which courses has he not played.

MsCreant's picture

Lazyman needs to come over and see this chart.

Must read. Bluesquid posted this and I want to be sure you see it. Lazyman is a shitty journalist, he sucked up to Russian authorities and did not see the collapse coming.


Anonymous's picture

"The record shows that Liesman's bureau was little more than a PR conduit for a corrupt regime, consistently averting its eyes from the ugly truth."

Deja Vu, with a side of LOL. He's such an idiot.

carbonmutant's picture

I'm sure Liesman knows this AND the real numbers that the BLS isn't releasing.

But it will be interesting to see how he spins this to protect the current adgenda.

kilroy's picture

Wait!  You mean that people in old media would report bogus information as if it were true and they would experience great success in their media career as a result?


"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"



Hephasteus's picture

Oh SNAP. I didn't know he has been full of shit his entire career. I thought it was a progressive disease.

Anonymous's picture

The real unmeasurable is job quality. If a college graduate is flipping burgers at McDonalds, then he or she is considered employed, but are they really? As more college level positions are off-shored, the goal of higher education is being decimated. How do you count the under-employed? I suspect their number is shockingly large.

Anonymous's picture

the bls attempts to measure underemployment through
u-6 and other data series....that number reads near 17%
and if you use pre-clinton methodology gross
unemployment is 22%...

Anonymous's picture

Oh I just remebere dmy self as an example of data forgotten. You see,those unemployment numbers contain only employees numbers. What about independent contractors?they don't qualify for unemployment. And since during the nineties and the new milinum,many companies were resorting to ousourcing many of their nonecore businesses to "independent contractors",who are usually like employees but they don't qualify for benefits. Is there any way of knpwing how many of those are unemployed?

Anonymous's picture

+100... I was one of them!

Anonymous's picture

Funny, most of the independent contractors I know (guys with their own one-man LLC or S Corp, and I say "man" because only men seem to do this for the most part) are gainfully employed and have been the entire time. It seems that the country still needs those who, you know, ACTUALLY DO WORK. Funny that. They all have to pay into unemployment, but none can ever draw from it. Another stupid problem that screws up the ability of anyone who works hard and takes risks to actually get ahead.

Fat Bob's picture

LMAO, wowzers, count me in there. I decided to take a philosophical stand and get on unemployment simply on the basis of frustration with feeding an unending, tireless war machine, nvm the fact that all that really matters to the powers that be is maintaining a path of the rich despite all the moral hazard. The time is now, we need to organize into a cohesive force for change, screw voting, make change with ur wallets.DO NOT PAY TAXES or minimize those that u cannot avoid!

carbonmutant's picture

Front page of this morning's San Francisco Chronicle:

Tea Party radicals gear up for 2010 elections

Organizers of the conservative Tea Party movement are forging plans to translate the anger that fueled nationwide anti-tax rallies and town hall protests into an electoral force that can boot incumbents in next year's midterm elections.


Anonymous's picture

Hungry people riot,There will never stop extending UI claims,They can't have a massive uprising because there troupes are 6000 miles away

Fat Bob's picture

LMAO, wowzers, count me in there. I decided to take a philosophical stand and get on unemployment simply on the basis of frustration with feeding an unending, tireless war machine, nvm the fact that all that really matters to the powers that be is maintaining a path of the rich despite all the moral hazard. The time is now, we need to organize into a cohesive force for change, screw voting, make change with ur wallets.DO NOT PAY TAXES or minimize those that u cannot avoid!

Anonymous's picture

Interesting, 50% increase in population over the period:


And yet the chart is flat until 2008 crash dispite the population increase.

trillionaire's picture

True, it would be nice to see this this data set as a percentage of the population instead.

old felix's picture

Agreed, or a percentage of the population aged 18 to 65.

Anonymous's picture

Agreed. Raw numbers are meaningless. Here's a link to the US population from 1970 - 2000:

1960 179,323,175
1970 203,302,031
1980 226,542,199
1990 248,718,301
2000 281,421,906


Unfortunately, it doesn't break the population down by age. (Though that would need some adjustment, too, since people tend to be healthier and more able to work at older ages now.)

305,529,237: U.S. population estimate for Jan. 1, 2009


These are very rough figures but they're better than not adjusting for population at all.

Bob's picture

Thanks, that's just about what I was imagining as the basis change while I looked at the chart.  Much less dramatic if scaled to population.  It would be interesting to see U6 scaled in fully normalized terms (standardizing all statistical definitions) over the same period. 

Anonymous's picture

Yes it would. Another problem is that this chart is comparing apples to oranges since the current period includes people covered by the emergency extension program. In most of the earlier periods, people in the same situation would not be included in the statistics, thereby inflating the current period. There may be other differences in the way the claims are determined through the period covered by the chart. It would be much more informative if the information were adjusted for working population and used the same definition for "unemployed" for the entire period of the chart. (E.g., if you're going to include people who are eligible for Emergency Unemployment Compensation, also include people who would have been eligible for such a program had it existed throughout the period covered. Also adjust the regular employment compensation coverage - if the definitions or eligibility has been changed - so that you are comparing like with like for the whole period. Or at least asterisk the discrepancies and give at least a ballpark estimate for what the comparable number would have been.)

Anonymous's picture

Where's the problem?

I'm not seeing it.


reddragonleo's picture

That chart is unbelievable, and it doesn't even include those who aren't receiving anymore un-employment benefits because they ran out.  And it doesn't include those who lost a $20.00-$40.00 per hour factory job, and replaced it with a part time job at Walmart for $7 bucks an hour.  We are going into the Great Depression Two!


berated's picture

What's all the commotion? It's like golf-- higher is better, right!?







Windemup's picture


Higher is better when my bowling score beats my golf score.

It's been a while though.

Molon Labe's picture

Does this factor in growth in the pool of workers subject to becoming unemployed?  I agree with the message, just curious.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

Chart does not adjust for the fact that total US population has grown from 198MM in 1967 to 305MM today

Squid-puppets a-go-go's picture

v. important factor

which actually mitigates the unemployment factor during the 90s and early 00's


of course, nothing mitigates the current malarkey


I also wonder if this has filtered out the changes in definitions to the unemployment figures, the likes of which the guys at



Anonymous's picture

How does it look if you seasonally adjust it? (and zoom in) Is there a bottom there, or not?

This is a notch above 9 million people. Where are the other 20-40 millions that are without jobs? Which numbers track them?

Dixie Normous's picture

Looks like the ES futures charts (among others) in the last 1/2 hour or so since Citi announced it will pay back TARP and give every taxpayer a candy cane.