Today we are facing monumental COVID19 unemployment that is initially tracked by the weekly number of new applications for unemployment payments — remember this is an insurance policy for which you have paid for years.
By that measure we are at 15% unemployment (those without jobs actively looking for a job which is known by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as U-3 Unemployment, the most common measure referred to by the media).
We are likely headed to 20-25% unemployment before the trend is reversed.
But, we are dealing with a situation that is entirely different than the traditional manner in which we assess these numbers over a long period of time.
Traditionally, we look at these numbers as a means of tracking a trend line to establish the expansion or contraction of the economy. They are trend numbers.
Before the advent of COVID19, the USA was at record high employment.
These numbers subsume — incorporate — people who technically meet the criteria, but who are really “furloughed” rather than classically unemployed.
By using the word furloughed, I am suggesting that their jobs are waiting for them whenever that business re-opens.
They are not “looking for a new job;” they are waiting for the business that formerly employed them to re-open.