US jobless hits 5 million, sets record high

Not exactly the news that encourages confidence in an already damaged market.

The number of laid-off workers receiving unemployment benefits has jumped to an all-time high near 5 million while new jobless claims remain well above 600,000. Both figures were worse than expected and new projections from the Federal Reserve show unemployment rising for the rest of this year.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people receiving regular unemployment benefits rose 170,000 to 4.99 million for the week ending Feb. 7, marking the fourth straight week those receiving benefits have been at a record level on data going back to 1967.

The continuing claims figure also was significantly above the year-ago level of 2.77 million and underscored the difficulty people are having in this recession finding another job once they are laid off.

An additional 1.5 million people are receiving benefits under an extended unemployment compensation program approved by Congress last year, bringing the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits to 6.54 million for the week ending Feb. 7.

In other economic news, wholesale inflation surged unexpectedly in January, according to the Labor Department. Wholesale prices jumped 0.8 percent last month, the biggest gain since July and well above the 0.2 percent increase that economists expected.

The acceleration was led by a 3.7 percent surge in energy prices with gasoline prices jumping 15 percent, the biggest gain in 14 months. Even outside the volatile food and energy sectors, wholesale prices showed a bigger-than-expected increase, rising by 0.4 percent.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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