Economists see more job losses, 9.8% unemployment in US

According to a USA Today article,  41% of economists surveyed in April predict the unemployment rate will top out at 10% or higher.   58%  of the economists surveyed said the economy will weaken in the next six months.


Recession Proof Businesses – US Gun Shops

According to Reuters, in the first two months of 2009, around 2.5 million Americans bought guns, a 26 percent increase over the same period in 2008. Gun dealers report this rise in sales to be a consequence of fear of social unrest as the ailing economy pushes the newly destitute deeper into misery.

The Orlando Sentinel’s also reports that gun dealers are experiencing shortages of bullets

Some say it began with the election of President Barack Obama. Others say it’s about the economic downturn or fear of crime. Whatever the reasons, ammunition has been selling like plywood and bottled water in the days before a hurricane.

Eleanor Duckwall’s blog on the nationwide ammunition shortage that has hit the U.S.  provides a comprehensive review of the various possible reasons for the ammunition shortage, which may include:

  • An increase in the size and number of paramilitary police units
  • An increase in the use of “patrol carbines” in law enforcement
  • Fears of draconian gun and ammunitions restrictions
  • Economic instability

Related articles:

The Recession Impacts Sharks and Churches

The recession has had an impact on church attendance and sharks.

A 2007 study from Texas State University shows that as the economy got worse, church attendance increased.   This seems to be supported by recent news reports out of the UK, that show church attendance has risen by 5%.

Recent reports from the international shark attack files shows that shark attacks decline with the economy, presumably due to the fact that fewer people can afford to travel and swim with the sharks.

Unemployment in Canada will be 10% or higher in 2009..

The following table is based on historical data from Statistics Canada, it shows the tight coupling of US and Canada unemployment rates, with the Canadian rates generally lagging the US.  The Canadian unemployment rates have been historically higher then the US by anywhere up to 4%:

Click to Expand

The current unemployment numbers for the US and Canada are as follows:

  • United States Department of Labor states the current unemployment rate as 8.1% as of February 2009.   States with double digit employment in January 2009 were reported as: California 10.1%, Michigan 11.16%, Rhode Island 10.3%, South Carolina 10.4%.
US Department of Labor, Feb 6, 2009 - Unemployment Rate
  • Statistics Canada states the current unemployment rate as 7.7% as of February 2009, with Ontario at 8.7% unemployment

Statistics Canada, March 13 2009 - Unemployment Rate

The  historically tight coupling of the US and Canada unemployment rates mean that US forecasts can be reasonably used as a proxy for future Canadian unemployment rates.   Some sources and their forecasts for the 2009 US unemployment rate follow:

Click to Expand

Bank of Montreal is forecasting a US unemployment rate of 9.3% in 4Q09.

Royal Bank of Canada is forecasting a US unemployment rate of 8.8% in 4Q09.

Based on the current forecast US unemployment rates and past trends, I expect the Canadian unemployment rate to rise to over 10% and potentially over 14% nationally by 4Q09. (NOTE: Toronto Dominion bank’s March forecasts expect Canadian unemployment to reach 9.9% by 4Q09.)

The coupling of the Canada and US unemployment rates  is interesting in many ways.  In particular, there are academic papers that examine the question of Canadian government policy –  specifically, can Canadian policy have any significant impact on Canadian unemployment numbers due to the tight coupling of our economy to that of the US?

My sense is our government, in general, has little hope of stopping Canadian unemployment rates from following that of the US.   I believe that from a practical perspective, all our government can reasonably do is moderate the impact of the unemployment growth with special social and employment programs; and sustain our economy and workforce until the US economy recovers by driving infrastructure and  entrepreneurial economic development programs.

In order to break the cycle, the Canadian government should be actively working to diversify our economy by  aggressively fostering new small business development and developing export relationships and associated selling channels with other countries outside of the US.

Some interesting articles and papers on the US and Canada unemployment numbers include the following:

A factor that can have a big impact on the rate of unemployment growth is what protectionist actions are taken by Canada, the US and others.  It is almost inevitable that if the recession continues to deepen — politicians will find protectionism as  one of the last tools in their basket of options to try.   Already the politicians are dancing around this topic – some articles on this topic are below: