Dark Side of the Moon – Unemployment?

Chip Corley  |

Image via Ryan Drury/Flickr CC

In March 1973, Pink Floyd released its “Dark Side of the Moon” album with great fanfare. The album was an immediate success by fans and critics alike; it went on to sell over 45 million copies and is considered one of the greatest progressive rock albums ever recorded. That was 44 years ago; for baby boomers like me, it seems like yesterday.

This week’s initial unemployment claims report, which tabulates the number of individuals seeking to receive compensation from job losses, fell from 244,000 to 222,000. The last time initial claims were this low was back in March of 1973, which is actually a long time ago. Considering the magnitude of this decline, I decided to investigate further. Here is what I found.

At first glance, the chart above speaks volumes: since ’73 there have been six recessions (designated by the gray vertical bars). Claims ranged from as low as 222,000 to as high as 695,000 and have averaged 372,000 throughout.

Today’s number is impressive by all measures, but when put into historical context, it’s extraordinary. In 1973, the total U.S. population was 211 million and employment was 76 million; today total population is 326 million and employment is 147 million. On a relative basis the percentage of workers applying for unemployment compensation is .0015 or 1.5 tenths of a percent. That equates to 1 person filing for unemployment insurance claims for every 700 workers. What does it all mean for the economy? Well, let’s just say things are looking up. As for the Dark Side of Moon, Pink Floyd is one of a kind.

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