Unemployment claims up again

Just when the weekly unemployment claims were starting to go back down after a 3 week spike, this week’s new claims jumped up to 424,000. That’s 10,000 more than last week. The four-week average now stands at 438,500.

This is not a surprise given the new federal government report on economic growth, which was anemic in the first quarter of 2010 at 1.8 percent. The New York Times notes that the second quarter doesn’t look to be all that much better:

Perhaps the most worrisome number was the one Macroeconomic Advisers released on Wednesday. That firm tries to estimate the growth rate of the current quarter in real time, and it now says annualized second-quarter growth is running at only 2.8 percent, up from 1.8 percent in the first quarter. Not so long ago, the firm’s economists thought second-quarter growth would be almost 4 percent.

An economy that is growing this slowly will not add jobs quickly. For the next couple of months, employment growth could slow from about 230,000 recently to something like 150,000 jobs a month, only slightly faster than normal population growth. That is certainly not fast enough to make a big dent in the still huge number of unemployed people.