There’s good news this week in the monthly jobs report, the latest sign that the economy, however grudgingly, has healed from the financial crisis nine years ago:
The unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent, the Labor Department said, from 4.9 percent. The last time it was this low was August 2007. That was the month, you may recall, when global money markets first froze up because of losses on United States mortgage-related bonds: early tremors of what would become a recession four months later and a global financial crisis nine months after that.
These things, of course, are cyclical. Here’s how the unemployment rate has changed, by state, during my lifetime:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a fascinating new report out that compares consumer budgets in the United States, Canada, Britain and Japan. As the graph below shows, there’s a huge amount of variation in what people in each country are spending their money on:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this week that employers in December conducted roughly 1,380 “mass layoffs,” incidents in which more than 50 workers lose their jobs. That happened to about 145,000 Americans last month, according to new filings for unemployment benefits.
That figure seems high, but compare it to February 2009, the height of the recession. Back then more than twice as many mass layoffs occurred, affecting 326,000 employees — including 145,000 in the manufacturing sector alone.
This quick chart, made with Google Docs, shows how these incidents have slowly declined over the months since (see larger, interactive version):
This chart shows how such incidents spiked in 2001 and 2009 — years in which the U.S. economy struggled (see larger, interactive version):