The 2008 Great Recession has created new economic records in some cases or challenged existing extremes in other cases. Here are examples:
The unemployed rate jumped to 10.2%, the highest since April 1983, from 9.8% in September. October was the 22nd straight month the U.S. economy has shed jobs, the longest on records dating back 70 years. The number of unemployed hit 15.7 million, up from 15.1 million. Counting those who have settled for part-time jobs or stopped looking for work, the unemployment rate would be 17.5 %, the highest on records dating from 1994.
The ISM index has been above 50% for Sepetmber and October. During the last 30 years, when the ISM is above 50% it is very likely that the job report for the same or following month will show job growth. We should expect job growth in the job report for October that will come out on Friday. This should be a major turnaround in the economy. The stock market will feel re-assured in its 54% gain on the S&P 500 that it achieved since last March and the 15% increase since the beginning of the year. Some believe that the high rise in the ISM numbers in the last two months shows that the four-quarter old, 2008 Great Recession will turn out to be a V-recession.
The much-awaited turnaround in economic activity ended in the third quarter of 2009 after a streak of four straight quarters of contracting, the first time that's happened on records dating to 1947.
Productivity rose by 9.5% in the third quarter of 2009, following a 6.9% surge in the second quarter. This was the fastest since a 9.7% increase in the third quarter of 2003. Productivity is the key ingredient to rising living standards. It lets companies pay their workers higher wages. The increases are financed by the increased output rather than higher costs for products.
The Dow Jones reached 6,547 on March 9, 2009, a 12-year low. Some investors thought that the financial world was coming to an end.
The index of consumer confidence hit a historic low of 25.3 in February 2009. A reading above 90 of this index means the economy is on solid footing and above 100 signals strong growth.
Holiday sales in 2008 were the weakest holiday season since at least 1967 (recession) when the Commerce Department started collecting the data.
Consumer debt is down 2.8% in 2008. This is the third time that consumer debt is paid down in 50 years. Consumer credit card debt was down 5.1%, the first time in 40 years.
The federal deficit in 2009 will exceed 10.5 % of the gross domestic product (GDP)—higher than at any point in the country's post-war history. In the last 60 years, the deficit exceed 5% of GDP only in two years (1983 and 1985) and 4% in only seven years.
The Great Recession, which began in December 2007, has eliminated a net total of 7.2 million jobs, the worst since the 1930s. In total, 15.1 million people are now out of work.
The unemployment rate reached 9.8 % in September 2009, the highest since 1983. If laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included, the unemployment rate would be 17%, the highest on records dating from 1994.
Continuing (cumulative) claims for jobless benefits have declined slowly from a record level of 6.9 million in late June and declined after that. Under normal economic conditions, the decline after such a record suggests that the unemployment rate is near its peak.
The total number of weekly hours worked in the private sector dropped to 33.1 in May, the lowest on records.
One in eight Americans is now (July 2009) late on a housing payment or already in foreclosure. One in every 159 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the first quarter of 2009. The main factor leading to foreclosures is the interaction of falling housing prices and adverse life events such as deaths, divorces and job losses.
Applications for new building permits (Housing Starts), which can be a useful indicator to gauge the near future of the housing market, dropped to a new record low annual rate of 494,000 units in April 2009.
Apartment vacancies rose to 7.8%, a 23 year old high.
Orders for U.S. durable goods hovered near the lowest level in 13 years in April 2009 as demand for business equipment weakened, indicating that investment will be one of the last areas of the economy to recover.
The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index dropped to 32.4 percent in December 2008, far below the 50 percent level that separates economic expansion and contraction. This is lowest reading since June 1980, when the index hit 30.3 percent.
The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) non-manufacturing composite index dropped to 37.3 in November 2008, the lowest reading in the short history of the index, which began in 1997. This raises questions about the extent of the likely decline in service sector employment in the current downturn.
The government reported the U.S. is using so little natural gas that it has more in storage now (October 2009) than at any other time on record. The U.S. stored 3.589 trillion cubic feet of natural gas last week of September 2009. This number tops the previous all-time high of 3.545 trillion cubic feet set on November 2, 2007. Government records go back to 1975.
The Baltic Exchanges’ Baltic Dry Index, which measures the cost of shipping dry raw materials (iron, copper, dry grains etc), is considered a leading economic indicator. In December 2008, it reached its 22 year low.
The IMF predicted that the volume of world trade will drop by 11.9%, the worst since the Great Depression.
To be continued.
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