Unemployment Still Sucks, Fed Beige Book Doesn't Look Much Better

Jobless recovery my ass. Unemployment continues to drag and will continue to drag and there is absolutely no way that anyone can convince us that this is not a bad sign.


Unemployment rose in 23 U.S. states in September and hit records in Nevada, Rhode Island and Florida.

Nevada’s jobless rate, at 13.3 percent, was the second- highest among U.S. states behind Michigan, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Unemployment in Rhode Island reached 13 percent, and Florida’s rate climbed to 11 percent, the highest since data began in 1976.

Mounting unemployment is hurting state budgets by cutting tax revenue and boosting benefits to fired workers. Joblessness nationally will reach 10 percent this quarter, a Bloomberg News survey of economists showed this month, indicating consumers will probably not lead a recovery from the recession.

“There is still scant evidence of hiring,” said Marisa Di Natale, a director at Moody’s Economy.com in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “We expect the unemployment rate in most areas to continue rising despite fewer job cuts,” she said.

The number of states with at least 10 percent unemployment held at 14 last month. The jobless rate nationally reached a 26-year high of 9.8 percent in September, the Labor Department reported earlier this month.

Unemployment in the District of Columbia also exceeded 10 percent for a fifth consecutive month, rising to 11.4 percent from 11.1 percent.

Michigan continued to lead the nation in joblessness, with a rate of 15.3 percent in September, up from 15.2 percent.

The depressed labor market in the state reflects Michigan’s dependence on the auto industry, said Timothy Bartik, a senior economist with the W.E. Upjohn Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a non-profit labor-research group.

“Any state that specializes in a particular industry, when that industry tanks, it’s very hard to offset in any five- or 10-year period.”

New York City’s unemployment rate reached a 25-year high of 10.3 percent in September, the state’s Labor Department reported last week. The rate was 10.2 percent in August and 6 percent in September 2008. The state’s jobless level held at 8.9 percent.

The Fed Beige Book reveals little new information (MW):

Small and scattered improvements are taking place in the economy throughout the country, according to the latest Federal Reserve 'beige book' report released on Wednesday. Leading the way are the residential real estate market and the manufacturing sector, the report said. Commercial real estate was the weakest sector. Banking continued to falter, with weak loan demand and eroding credit quality. Most districts reported little or no increase to either wage or prices pressures and there were even reports of downward price pressures.

I found this Beige Book bit extra interesting, especially after discussing the coming retail season with Financial Armageddon's Michael Panzner for a recent brain-grilling I gave him over at Going Concern:

The "cash-for-clunkers" program ended in August, leaving depleted inventories and slower sales in its wake. New vehicle sales declined in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco. However, Chicago reported a pick-up in vehicle sales in early October. Low new-car inventories helped to move used cars in several Districts, although San Francisco commented that the demand for used cars also weakened. New York also reported that automobile dealers saw some improvement in credit conditions for consumers looking to purchase cars.

Looking to expectations for holiday sales, Chicago anticipated improved sales, while Philadelphia retailers expected consumers to limit spending. However, Third District merchants also noted that store traffic increased recently. Atlanta reported that two-thirds of contacts expected flat or declining sales over the next three months.

Tourist activity varied across Districts. Boston, New York, and Atlanta described business travel as extremely soft, whereas Richmond observed solid growth in group bookings. Occupancy rates held steady in New York, spurred by increased leisure visitors, while aggressive discounting boosted cruise-line occupancy rates in Atlanta. San Francisco reported a deep slide in hotel and resort visits in Southern California and Las Vegas, but noted a continued firming of occupancy rates in Hawaii. Richmond indicated overall bookings were much improved over last year, while Kansas City reported occupancy rates remained below year-ago-levels. Room rates continued to decline in several Districts, including New York and Atlanta. In contrast, Boston said that hotels were offering dramatic promotional deals and discounts on local attractions, which preserved posted room rates.

Oh yeah? Let me tell you what's really going on in the 12th District: I'm getting our holiday hotels at 50%, with free parking. They're practically begging us to book our rooms over there, throwing in Bay views and free breakfast and slashing prices. Whereas previously I had to book months in advance to get our prime December dates, the hotel we love in town for our remote staff is practically empty and I can book up until the date of the stay if I need to. So take your "firming occupancy" and stick it up your ass, Janet.

Deep deep discounts, bitches. America is on sale, hope you're getting a piece.

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.