I've been wondering whether it was possible for a Recession to end officially even if over half a million jobs a week are being lost, as measured by new jobless claims. Much to my surprise, the answer is a resounding "YES".
The table below shows information new jobless claims for every recession beginning in 1970. All numbers are in 1000's (e.g., 336 is 336,000 new jobless claims, the highest point during the 1970 recession). Data shown is the highest week's new jobless claims for each recession, its equivalent adjusting for population growth to 2009, the new jobless claims during the last week of the end of each recession, that data also adjusted for population growth to 2009, and finally the percentage decline off the high number to the number during the last week of every recession.
|% off High|
Note that adjusted for population growth, jobless claims during the 1974, 1980, and 1982 recessions were considerably worse than our present recession. Also note that the biggest percentage decline until the declared end of any prior recession was -12%.
A 12% decline from the April 2009 high of 659,000 jobless claims would be ~580,000. Thus, if we aren't seeing the end of the 2008-2009 recession right now (given yesterday's -565,000 number), it will be the steepest percentage drop in new claims during any recession in the last 40 years.
Sorry that the chart is rather rudimentary, but in light of yesterday morning's data, I wanted to get this bit of information out as soon as possible.