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Continuing unemployment claims lag initial claims by a week, but the former provides a better look at what is happening now. 

For 7 consecutive weeks, continued unemployment claims have topped the 20 million mark.  

Historical Perspective

Continued Unemployment Claims 1970-Present 2020-06-18

Continuing claims only topped the 5 million mark in the depths of the Great Recession.

They have now topped the 5 million mark for 11 consecutive weeks, and the 20 million mark for 7 weeks.

Initial Claims 

Initial Claims 2020-06-18

Initial Claims Not a Leading Indicator

Initial claims are normally considered a leading indicator. In this case, they certainly aren't.

The huge surge in initial unemployment claims is the past. Continuing claims tell the present.

Initial claims peaked at 6.867 million 11 weeks ago, They have fallen to 1.508 million but continued claims are barely dropping.

For discussion of initial claims, please see Unemployment Claims Dip But Remain Stubbornly High

The importants fact is continued unemployment claims have topped the 20 million mark for nearly two months.

V-Shaped Nonsense

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Any notion that 20 million people will soon return to work at the same number of hours as before is nonsense.

Retail Sales

Earlier today I reported Retail Sales Surge Most on Record But Number is Misleading.

  • Retail sales surged a greater than expected 17.7% in May but the numbers are still well below the pre-pandemic levels.
  • Despite the surge, sales numbers are back to levels seen in late 2015 and early 2016.

People got money and spent it, but they also skipped mortgage payments and credit card payments.

What happens when the checks run out?

Manufacturing Tells the Same Story as Claims 

The Fed's Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization puts a big negative spotlight on the emerging V-shaped recovery thesis.

The Myth of the V-Shaped Recovery in One Chart

Industrial Production, Manufacturing, Motor Vehicles

For discussion, please see The Myth of the V-Shaped Recovery in One Chart.

Housing Recovery Not Much to Crow About

Finally please note Housing Recovery Not Much to Crow About

Housing starts are near 6-year lows and less than January 1959 levels.

So retail sales present one picture, but manufacturing, industrial production, housing starts, and continuing claims over 20 million tell another.