Ed. note: Above the Law has teamed up with Law Shucks, which has done excellent work translating all of the layoff news into user-friendly charts and graphs: the Layoff Tracker.
Unemployment rose again last month, climbing higher in 43 states, which is particularly surprising when compared to the 36 states that reported improved numbers in November. Once again, it might have been worse, but for the curious ways in which the unemployment rate is calculated:
In another nationwide trend, long-suffering states like California and Michigan saw their jobless rates stabilize even as they continued to bleed jobs. That’s because thousands of frustrated workers gave up hunting for work and dropped out of the labor force, which means they aren’t included in the unemployment rate.
Contrary to common sense, the unemployment rate isn’t calculated based on the total number of people who don’t have jobs, so people becoming so frustrated they quit looking actually improves the number (even though they’re certainly telling their friends they’re unemployed because, you know, they don’t have jobs).
Overall, 85,000 jobs were lost in December (compared to a 4,000 job increase in November) – but 600,000 people left the labor force in the same period. So the numbers are even worse than the record levels they’re currently reaching. For example, New York’s unemployment rate is nine percent, a 26-year high, and New Jersey’s 10.1% is a 33-year high.
The trend isn’t looking much better lately, either. First-time jobless claims rose 36,000 to 482,000 last week, once again surprising economists, who had a consensus estimate of a slight decrease (although this week’s numbers might be slightly off due to estimating necessary as a result of the Martin Luther King holiday). That marks the first time the four-week rolling average has increased in 19 weeks.
But that’s the big picture. After the jump, the goings on in the legal sector.