Okay, let’s be fair; the CNBC report on unemployment claims doesn’t use the word “unexpectedly.” They save that for the retail numbers in December, which surprised analysts. They expected a gain in December, but instead sales retreated from a bump upward in November:
The number of newly laid-off workers requesting unemployment benefits rose last week as jobs remain scarce amid a sluggish economic recovery, while holiday retail sales were weaker than expected as well.
The Labor Department said new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 444,000. Wall Street economists polled by Thomson Reuters expected an increase of only 3,000. …
Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly fell in December as consumer spent less on vehicles and an array of other goods during the holiday shopping month, data showed on Thursday, raising concerns about the durability of the economy’s recovery.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 0.3 percent last month, the first decline in three months, after rising by an upwardly revised 1.8 percent in November. Sales in November were previously reported to have increased 1.3 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales gaining 0.5 percent last month.
I think Reuters needs some new analysts. In their defense, they’ve been listening to the Obama administration spin numbers all year long, and the history of recessions would indicate that growth would have started occurring by now. I’ll have more on that in a separate post, but clearly the direction of economic policy in 2009 has even the analysts scratching their heads.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the housing market provided even more bad news:
Foreclosures jumped 14 percent in December 2009 from the previous month, according to a new report from foreclosure listing Web site RealtyTrac.com. …
In all, 349,519 properties received a foreclosure notice in December, up 15 percent from the year before. That’s one in every 366 housing units receiving a foreclosure notice, which is defined as a default notice, bank repossession or auction sale notice. …
Besides the monthly data, RealtyTrac also released foreclosure totals for 2009. Last year, 2.8 million US properties received foreclosure filings, a 21 percent increase from 2008 and a 120 percent increase from 2007.
The numbers fell short of the 3 million to 3.2 million foreclosures RealtyTrac had predicted for the year because the government’s mortgage modification program has temporarily slowed foreclosures that will most likely occur anyway, Sharga said.
In fact, those numbers would have been higher had some of the recipients of TARP funds not agreed to moratoriums on foreclosures. BofA, Citibank, and Fannie Mae all postponed actions on foreclosures in the fourth quarter of last year. That won’t keep homes out of foreclosure, however; it will just delay the inevitable for people who can’t afford their house payments. All these policies did was drag out the pain into another year, and keep people shoving cash out the door they could have used to start fresh, sinking instead into homes they won’t be able to keep.
These numbers, along with December’s employment numbers, show that we’re not in recovery. We’re not even close to recovery yet.