Despite widespread and intensive efforts by the Obama White House to turn around the economy, rising unemployment figures remain the lagging indicator of some improving economic trends. May unemployment has now risen to 9.4%, or an increase of 0.5% from last month. Historically unemployment statistics tend to trail economic trends by as much as six months.
While some retail sales and especially Wall Street stock values as well as consumer confidence have risen in recent weeks, many employers still seem to be slow at hiring new employees to answer any new increase in business activity. This is part of the reason that unemployment continues to lag behind any recent consumer pickup in business activity. Short-term business increases don't always result in such immediate increases in hiring activity.
Every unemployed American who cannot provide for themselves or their family is a major personal tragedy. Many families are terribly hurting right now. Yet because actual employment gains always historically lag behind increased business activity is little consolation to these hurting Americans right now, although it holds great promise in the coming months. In the meantime, Obama Administration efforts to support longer-term unemployment insurance protections do offer some safety net while the economy begins to self-correct from the global recession's terrible human impact.
During the worst part of the high unemployment crisis during the 1980's Reagan years recession, his government sought to dismiss the high unemployment figures as some sort of "part of the cure to fix the economy" which really made no sense at all. The fact of the matter is that unemployment back then, as now, are all lagging signs of business trends that are at least moving in a positive direction. And like the 1980's, an eventual big business rebound did create some boom economic times and pull up employment figures as well.
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