By Dave Lindorff
The US stock market jumped up today on word that the number of new unemployment applications fell to the lowest level in four years.
Sounds good, right? It's meant to sound good, but if you look at the number, and if you think about what it really means, it's not good news at all.
What the US Labor Department reported was that new unemployment claims filed for the week ended Feb. 24 totaled 351,000, which was slightly lower than the 353,000 new claims filed the prior week. "Slightly indeed! a better term for this 0.57% decline is "statistically insignificant!
The idea that such a "drop" in new claims would spark a jump in the Dow or the S&P shows how completely divorced from reality investors really are.
But it is worse than that. The number, remember, is new unemployment claims. That is to say, over a third of a million more Americans were laid off last week. Anyone who sees that as some kind of good news is really stretching to find a silver lining on a pretty dark cloud.
Now I'll grant you that from one perspective it's good to see "only" 351,000 new people getting on the nation's unemployment lines rather than the 589,000 who joined a line in December 2008. But the reason the number is smaller now is not that things have been getting better. It's that there are fewer people to lay off. Companies and employers have already cut back their workforces to the bone, so for them to find another 351,000 people to sack, as they seem to be doing week after week, suggests they are really struggling.
The official unemployment rate, an artificial politically rigged number deliberately designed to underreport the amount of actual joblessness, is still at a staggering 8.3 percent of the workforce, which represents over 13 million people. And if you count, as the government used to do, those who have been forced to accept only part-time jobs when they want full-time work, and those who have given up actively looking for work not because they don't want a job but because they have realized that there are no jobs to be had where they live, the rate is over 15%, and nearly half of those people without jobs have been without one for more than 6 months. Many people have exhausted their unemployment benefits, which after extensions, have been running as long as 99 weeks, or nearly two years!...
For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1082