Civilian Unemployment & Recessions

The year on year rate of change of the official civilian unemployment rate is the measure, and when this passes 15, then every time it has done this USA has been declared in a recession at a latter point in time (see 3rd panel)


Chart via iTulip


Legend: Shaded area are recessions

1st Panel – USA GDP and USA GDP without exports
2nd Panel – Civilian unemployment rate
3rd Panel – Rate of change of series in 2nd panel



See also:
Estimating Probabilities of Recession in Real Time Using GDP and GDI
Jeremy J. Nalewaik
Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Federal Reserve December 19, 2006

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  1. leftback commented on Aug 29

    That income number was a shocker this morning, eh Barry? That was actually worse than the more bearish predictions.

    We are probably seeing a confluence of rising unemployment and a decrease in hours worked among those employed, something not as obvious but that you can see going on around us.

    Fannie and Freddie common not looking like the bargain of the century today, I see….

  2. mickslam commented on Aug 29

    Alright Barry – We get it!!!!

    You think we are in a recession!! jeeze…

    But you do have to say it over and over, as there is a substantial crowd out there that thinks we are growing at like 3.2% or something crazy.

    I would like this chart better if they used U-9 but thats a quibble not a criticism.

    The more important question now “is when does it end?”

  3. philipat commented on Aug 29

    Excuse me if I am wrong but doesn’t the third graph suggest that when the rate of change goes over 15 this is coincident with the END of a recession?

  4. Steve C commented on Aug 29

    Very nice work Barry. When does it become profitable to start buying stocks when a recession is looming? Since the stock market is, theoretically, always six months ahead, should we start buying stocks now in preparation for the recovery?

  5. JimmyY commented on Aug 29

    Hi Barry.

    Have you noticed….

    Per U.S. DoL’s 8/21 initial claims release:

    “States reported 1,284,252 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending Aug. 2, an increase of 570,284 from the prior week.”

    I looked at initial claims news releases prior to 8/21 and could NOT find any reference to the “570k prior week” statistic.

    The 8/28 initial claims are not better:

    “States reported 980,695 persons claiming EUC (Emergency Unemployment Compensation) benefits for the week ending Aug. 9, a decrease of 313,633 from the prior week.”

    Unfortunately, the 8/21 EUC numbers were revised +10k within the 8/28 report.

    More analysis from Mike Donnelly:

    Looks like the employment picture (or lack thereof) seems very ominous.

  6. icm63 commented on Aug 29

    WARNING. FDIC survey of Lending standards tightening, and inflation have a high correlation with how bad unemployment can get. At the moment both tight lending standards and inflation are higher than 1991/2001 so unemployment rate peaking at above 7.5% is a very big possibility. Its not un american to be a boy scout and be prepared, (I am not american), so good luck.

  7. Bruce commented on Aug 29

    Britain Faces Worst Economic Crisis in 60 Years…

    By none other than Alistar Darling…

    I can still wait awhile before I send Mr. Washington and Mr. Lincoln back to work for me in this market…

    Bruce in Tennessee

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