Here's a quick roundup of some of today's bleak economic news:
Half a million people filed initial claims for unemployment last week, the government said. That was the highest number since November of '09. The four-week moving average for initial unemployment claims — often cited because it smooths out week-to-week variations — was 482,500, also the highest since last November. As this morning's WSJ noted, trends in initial jobless claims often foreshadow broader economic shifts.
Manufacturing activity decreased this month, according to a monthly survey from the Philly Fed. It was the first time since July of last year that the survey, which looks at manufacturing in the region around Philadelphia, showed declining activity. Calculated Risk called the news "further evidence of a 2nd half slowdown."
The government will run a $1.3 trillion deficit this fiscal year, equal 9.1 percent of GDP, according to the latest estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. It's the second-biggest deficit in the past 65 years both in absolute terms, and as a percentage of GDP (last year was the biggest).
The CBO report calls the past year's economic growth "anemic," and gives this outlook for the coming year:
The considerable number of vacant houses and underused factories and offices will be a continuing drag on residential construction and business investment, and slow income growth as well as lost wealth will weigh on consumer spending.