U.S. Economic Growth Declined

1.4%

“Gross domestic product unexpectedly declined 1.4% in the first quarter, marking an abrupt reversal for an economy coming off its best performance since 1984,” CNBC reports. “The negative growth rate missed even the subdued Dow Jones estimate of a 1% gain for the quarter.” “Rising omicron infections to start the year hampered activity across the board, while inflation surging at a level not seen since the early 1980s and the Russia invasion of Ukraine also contributed to the economic stasis.”

It’s the Economy’s Great, Stupid!


An estimated 166,000 Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week, down nearly 5,000 claims from the previous week and better than analyst projections of 200,000. It is the lowest figure since November 1968 (and the second-lowest since weekly reporting began in January 1967). Continuing claims rose slightly by 17,000 to 1.52 million, coming two years after the number of claims reached an all-time high of 6.1 million in April 2020.

The decline shows employers are limiting layoffs in a tight labor market. Roughly 1.8 job openings are available for every unemployed worker; the unemployment rate stood at 3.6% in March, just above the prepandemic level of 3.5%. Nearly 4.4 million workers left their jobs in February, a number that has held steady as employers try to fill job openings.

The figure represents the third consecutive week that new claims fell below 200,000.

Blue Counties Lead U.S. COVID Economic Recovery

“The geography of America’s economic engine is heavily concentrated in counties that Joe Biden won in 2020. These counties are much more heavily vaccinated than the rest of the country and thus better able to withstand the economic effects of Covid’s delta variant. … The 520 counties Biden won account for fully 71% of U.S. gross domestic product, while the 2,564 that Trump carried produced just 29%. In other words, America’s economic engine is bluer than ever.”

Bloomberg Businessweek

U.S. Jobless Claims Hit New Low

375,000

Associated Press: “The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell for a third straight time last week, the latest sign that employers are laying off fewer people as they struggle to fill a record number of open jobs and meet a surge in consumer demand. Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to 375,000 from 387,000 the previous week. … A total of about 12 million people are receiving unemployment benefits, down sharply from the previous week’s figure of nearly 13 million… So far at least, there has been little sign that the delta variant has depressed hiring or prompted layoffs.”