Data released today reveal a United States economy that remains unsettled.

Mass Layoffs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report shows a 2 percent uptick in January seasonally-adjusted mass layoffs from December. The jump in mass layoff initial claimants for unemployment insurance was even larger at 19 percent over December.

Gross Job Gains

This report, which describes gross job gains and losses rather than the net result of the two opposing forces, shows perhaps surprisingly that gross job gains rose in mid-2009. However, gross job losses fell and fell enough to force the net jobs held to fall. Gross job gains typically rise in recessions due to a turnover effect. Comparing this recession to the recession of 2001 shows that the level of gross job gains is lower thus far compared with mid-2001, which makes sense given that this is a deeper recession.

Consumer Confidence

The Conference Board’s measure of February’s consumer confidence fell to 46 from 56.5 in January and was lower than the consensus estimate of 55. The measure is at its lowest level in 10 months, which was when the economy was contracting rapidly, indicating that the comfort level of the household sector remains low.