The BLS' report on the number of new jobless claims filed in the week ending 15 September 2012 indicates that the pace of layoffs in the United States is accelerating at the fastest pace since the 2007 recession began.
At present, the average rate of increase in the number of initial unemployment insurance benefit claims filed each week since the most recent trend began on 7 July 2012 has reached 2,800 per week. That figure is greater than the average rate of increase of 1,641 layoffs per week that was recorded as the U.S. entered into recession in December 2007. That figure held through 26 July 2008, when high oil and gasoline prices accelerated the recession into high gear, increasing the rate of new layoffs in the U.S. to 7,599 per week.
You can see how today's rate of increase in the rate of new jobless claims being filed compares with those observed in the 2007 recession in our chart showing the residual distribution of the major trends for layoffs since the beginning of 2006 (see here for a description of the primary trends indicated on our chart below):
Like the sharp increase in 2008, we believe that today's high oil and gasoline prices are driving the sharp increase in the trend for U.S. layoffs.
Unlike previous situations when the price of gasoline increased beyond the $3.50 per gallon threshold that we've observed seems to mark the level for "high" gasoline prices in the United States, it appears that employers did not react as suddenly to the onset of these prices as they have in the past.
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