The Cucumber Factor
Management by... Something or Other

On Track to the Worst Downturn since WWII


Jobless Claims at 26-Year High; Import Prices Fall: The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits surged to a 26-year high last week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday, as a deepening recession forced employers to cut back on hirings.... And the U.S. trade deficit widened unexpectedly in October as imports from China rose to a new record and oil imports rebounded as prices fell by a record amount, a Commerce Department report showed.

Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits jumped by 58,000, the biggest increase since September 2005, to a seasonally adjusted 573,000 in the week ended Dec. 6 from an upwardly revised 515,000 the previous week. That was the highest print since November 1982, when 612,000 workers submitted new claims for unemployment benefits. A Labor Department official said there were no special factors influencing the report. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast 525,000 new claims versus a previously reported figure of 509,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of new jobless claims, a better gauge of underlying labor trends because it smoothes out week-to-week volatility, rose to 540,500 from 526,250 the prior week, the highest since Dec. 18, 1982 when a reading of 554,500 was recorded.

Continuing claims jumped to 4.43 million in the week ended Nov. 29, also a 26-year high, from 4.09 million the previous week. The 338,000 increase in continuing claims matched the gain recorded in the week ended Nov. 30, 1974...