July Unemployment Polls

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It's the first Thursday of the month, which means that tomorrow we'll get the "official" monthly unemployment data from the government. June's report wasn't very good. Even though the official rate declined to 9.5% from 9.7%, Census worker layoffs resulted in a net loss of 125,000 jobs. Were things better in July? Vote below!

The initial jobless claims numbers today don't provide a very bright backdrop. They rose 19,000 to 479,000 last week -- a three-month high. That was much worse than economists expected. The 4-week average is now 458,500, which is only several thousand lower than it was in the final week of June when it was 466,500. Continuing claims last week were 4.54 million, again a little lower than the 4.62 million value at the end of June.

Slightly more optimistic data was provided by ADP's monthly report. It showed a gain of 42,000 jobs in July -- better than June's 19,000 rise. Of course 42,000 jobs is still relatively week, considering there are around 15 million unemployed Americans. It was also worse than May's gain of 55,000.

Another measure, the Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. report (.pdf) for layoffs showed that employers expected to cut 41,676 in July. That's 6% higher than the 39,358 planned layoffs in June. Both months were higher than May.

Readers had a mixed performance in the June poll. Only 8.2% correctly predicted that June's rate was 9.5%. Yet, an impressive 55% were right about additional jobs having been lost. Presumably, few readers managed to get both right, since the rate and jobs went in opposite directions, but there may have been a few.

This month, we made that second poll a little more challenging, by creating a few different options for jobs lost, since that's a fairly plausible outcome. Census layoffs likely had an impact on July, and most June indicators imply that there probably wasn't very much private sector job creation last month. Vote on your estimates below!



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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
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