A friend writes to point out that initial unemployment claims have continued dropping, and are now at their lowest level in 40 years. In fact, if you look at unemployment claims as a percentage of total employment, they’re at their lowest level in forever:
I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Unemployment claims have been steadily dropping since the mid-80s, and didn’t spike during the Great Recession nearly as much as they did during the recessions of the 70s and 80s. Is this because the rules have gotten tougher? Because employers aren’t laying off as many people as they used to during recessions? Or is it just an artifact of the drop in workforce participation, which means fewer marginally attached workers are getting permanent jobs in the first place?
I’m not sure. But initial claims are now below 0.2 percent of the workforce, a modern record.