(THE TELEGRAPH) — December was the worst month for US unemployment since the Great Recession began.
The labour force contracted by 661,000. This did not show up in the headline jobless rate because so many Americans dropped out of the system. The broad U6 category of unemployment rose to 17.3%. That is the one that matters.
Wall Street rallied. Bulls hope that weak jobs data will postpone monetary tightening: a silver lining in every catastrophe, or perhaps a further exhibit of market infantilism.
The home foreclosure guillotine usually drops a year or so after people lose their job, and exhaust their savings. The local sheriff will escort them out of the door, often with some sympathy –– just like the police in 1932, mostly Irish Catholics who tithed 1pc of their pay for soup kitchens.
Realtytrac says defaults and repossessions have been running at over 300,000 a month since February. One million American families lost their homes in the fourth quarter. Moody’s Economy.com expects another 2.4m homes to go this year. Taken together, this looks awfully like Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.