Reclaiming Common Sense

(April 1) Seriously Good Jobs Numbers, Plural, Possible Next Week. No Joking. My daughter is fond of April Fool's Day jokes. I am not. The biggest joke that is ongoing is the reliance upon seasonally adjusted data by the majority of the people in the media. Whereas other people are reporting on the reports, this column reports on the data.This week was a short week after a three day weekend for my family. The April Fool's Day in review column addressed the final week of March articles.

(April 1) The beginning of the month means a Top Ten Column of the Prior Month. The Top Ten Columns of March included a column fromOctober regarding "Obama(s)care,"  numerous analyses regarding the March Jobs report, numerous weeks in review columns, and articles on housuing and retail sales.

(April 3)The payroll company ADP releases its jobs report in advance of the Government's Employment Situation Report.The report provides seasonally adjusted data on a regional and sector basis. Last months ADP report for February caught people off-guard. That data was revised slightly lower with the release of the ADP report for March."What to expect from ADP this week" examined the monthly data changes and annual data changes and projected.

(April 5) There was a guest on the "Tucker Carlson Show" who works for the "Fight for Fifteen" group. He was discussing the plight of "black," "brown," and "white people" who were unable to make a living wage at a minimum wage of under $15 an hour. That led to some research on the jobs status of "Black," "Hispanic/Latino," and "White" people. "Unequal Opportunity Recovery" revealed that the recovery has not been colorblind. Two groups  have recovered and one has not.

(April 5) We have now received strong back to back ADP job reports. "Strong March ADP Report" We saw monthly growth in nine out of ten sectors. We saw annual growth in eight out of ten sectors. The question is did we see seasonally adjusted job growth recorded in those same sectors in the employment situation report?

(April 6) Are we getting tired of all the winning?The weekly unemployment claims number has been reported under 300,000 for so long that the media does not cover the story. The problem is are we seeing low non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time unemployment claims (FTU) under 300,000 because jobs are being created, because people are working multiple jobs and are still employed when they lose one of them. or because the are working an elevated level of part-time jobs which are not covered by unemployment benefits? "Strong Weekly Unemployment Numbers" showed that even though the SA FTU number remains above 200,000, we could see that number drop under 200,000 by the end of the month. We could also see the continuing claims number drop below 2 million.

(April 6) There was a considerable amount of news this week: The confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, the Chemical attacks on the people of Syria, the US enforcing the "Red Line" that former President Obama drew in the sand, and the jobs report. There was also talk of the Federal Reserve starting to unwind Quantitative Easing. "Is Quantitative Acceleration Coming" reminded reader of the extreme measures that Congress took to tackle the recessionary conditions that President Obama inherited and the actions that the Federal Reserve did to make money cheaper, and balloon the Federal Debt.

(April 7) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.When the jobs number was released there was a ton of head scratching. How did the ADP number come in at 249,000 seasonally adjusted jobs and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) number come in at 98,000 non-farm payroll jobs? The CES number did not reconcile with the Current Population (CPS) number - seasonally adjusted or non-seasonally adjusted. We saw over 1 million NSA Full-time and Part-time jobs created last month. That was converted to a gain of 525,000 seasonally adjusted CPS jobs. Unemployment fell. Participation improved. It was a "Crazy March Jobs Report."

(April 7) This column has written a number of article series. One series is the Jobs Report forecast series. A second series is the weekly unemployment claims report articles. a third series is, or was, the "Four Presidents at __ Months column." That series compared President Obama's job accomplishments at the same point in his Presidency as Presidents Reagan, Clinton,and George W. Bush 43. New President, New Series. The new "Five Presidents" series is looking at the start of the four most recent two-term Presidents and President Trump. The data is the CPS data. Two months do not create a pattern. Until we get through the Summer this series will look at the effective unemployment rate, the unemployment rate that factors in the participation level and the missing participants. "The Start of Another Reagan Recovery" could have been titles "Five Presidents after Two Months in Office."

(April 8) The Week in Review

(April 10) The jobs report revealed that we added jobs, over a million non-seasonally adjusted jobs, saw a drop in unemployment, and an increase in employment.   We also saw a surge in the levels, plural, or people working multiple jobs.The are over 8 million people working multiple jobs, right now, and over 2.1 million people working two part-time jobs. Both are records for the month of March.

(April 11)There have been numerous discussions of which sectors are growing. There are eleven sectors that the Current Employment Statistics data measures. Ten Sectors Added Workers Last Month. The problem we have is that three sectors have fewer workers than they had during March 2009 - during the recession. Five sectors have fewer workers than they had during July 2007 - the peak of the pre-recession jobs market.

(April 12) There have been discussions about women and equal pay. Equal Pay Day was April 4. The Jobs Report was released April 7. The article "Men STILL Recovering from the Recession."  This article details how men are working more full-time jobs than women. Women are working more part-time jobs than men. Men are working more part-time jobs, and fewer full-time jobs, than they were during July 2007. Women are working more full-time jobs and more part-time jobs than July 2007. Men are still recovering - almost 10 years later.

(April 13) The weekly unemployment claims report was released. Some people were surprised ha the number of claims fell, seasonally adjusted. Reality, the non-seasonally adjusted claims level, increased for the first-time claims and decreased for the continuing claims. This is normal for this time of year. the "Maundy Thursday Unemployment Claims Report" details the changes. We have a seventeen year low in first-time claims because we have added 2 million jobs during the past two months. This has gone unreported elsewhere because these are the non-seasonally adjusted Current Population Survey data. The rest of "the world" reports the seasonally adjusted Current Employment Statistic data. We also have elevated levels of people working two jobs. When people working two jobs find one that pays better, someone, or multiple people, may pick up those jobs. When people working multiple jobs lose one they are not unemployed, they still have another job. They are not unemployed. They are lesser employed. There is no lesser employed insurance program.

(April 15) Week in Review

(April 18) The United States is a consumption based economy.Retail sales are vital to the economic health. The "must see" television starts with Black Friday and ends on New Year's Day.. We recently received the Monthly Advance Retail Trade Survey, also known as the Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey, or MARTS, for the month of March , The annual growth rate of 3.94% is the highest since March 2013.The  article "March Retail Strong, Revisions Mixed" reveals that the February data was massively revised downward, especially for the automotive sector, that every sector had sales higher during March than they had during February of this year, that four sectors had sales lower than March of 2016, and that two sectors still are not at March 2007 levels.

(April 19) Real estate sales have a multiplier effect on the economy. New homes require construction jobs, appliance sales, home and garden sales, movers, lenders, appraisers, loan officers, salespeople, and other service providers and miscellaneous sales. The "Great Recession" was more than a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Recession. The Great Recession was a Housing Recession coupled with a Jobs Recession, coupled with a Retail Recession that was recorded as a GDP recession . When the new construction market hit rock bottom during 2010 we were seeing activity that had not been seen since 1975. We have been digging and building our way out of that hole since 2010. The March New Construction data released this week was good news - and crickets. "March New Construction  Improves" details how the "Starts" data is the best more the month of March since 2007, the completions data is the best since 2008, and the under construction data is the fifth best March number since 1975. We had more homes under construction between 2004-2007. 

(April 19) Last week was Holy Week. There was data that fell through the cracks because of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) data was released with very little fanfare. This column has been commenting on Medical Cost Inflation and Shelter Cost Inflation for many, many months. March was more of the same. The "energy savings" that we were seeing during 2015 and 2016 are gone to higher taxes and higher energy and shelter costs. These "savings" were supposed to stimulate the economy. The media forgot that the taxes were acting as a depressant. The Ultimate Rum and Coke with more rum than Coke. "March Shelter, Energy and Medical Inflation" details how if you spent $4000 on a basket of goods last March that you needed an additional $99 dollars to buy the same items this past month.

(April 20) They still release weekly unemployment claims data on Thursday. We had fewer first-time claims and continuing claims for this week of the year than we have seen for either category since April of 2000. "Unemployment Claims Levels Remain Low" details how some of this is due to a near historic low level of participation, some is due to the recent elevated levels of people working two jobs, and the elevation of part-time job levels since July 2007. Will they report when the seasonally adjusted first-time claim level drops below 200,000? Will the authors of the report allow that to happen?

(April 21) The housing crisis "caused" the Great Recession. There were many causes - Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the ensuing gasoline spikes in prices, as well as people borrowing more money for homes than they could really afford. The "death knell" was the Ike spike of gasoline prices during 2012, after Hurricane Ike, during a weakening economy. Ike was economic ice storm that came after many economic ice storms. People have considerable wealth stored in their houses. When property values dropped homeowners "could not move." Sales dropped. Inventory soared. Prices dropped more. People filed for bankruptcy. Property values fell even more. The market was bifurcated between the non-distressed sale market and the distressed sale market.The March data revealed the highest ever average sales price for the month of March, as well as a top 5 month of March units sold number. Inventory is still near an 18 year low. We have sold over 5.5 million units during the past 12 months - still lower than the 7 million pace at the peak of the market - faster  than March 2003, Slower than March 2004. We saw "Strong, Solid March  Existing Home Data." The media shrugged it off.

(April 22) Week in Review - Too Much Winning

(April 26) Sometimes this column is influenced by other writers. There has been a considerable amount of ink and airtime spent on the "Retail Ice Age." The question is whether or not we are in an Ice age or a period of redefinition. Last week we received the MARTS report for March. Some sectors in the retail market are surging  while some do not have the same level of sales that they had during March 2016 or even March 2007. This week this column examined the job levels in those sectors.  "Retail Job Ice Age or Golden Age" found similar patterns in jobs data. As for the Restaurant Recession, it is not visible in the Leisure and Hospitality Jobs data.

(April 27)  One of the key economic indicators is the new home sales data. Last week we received the new home construction data. New home Starts and Completions are still recovering. New Homes under construction are at a near record high for the month of March. We also received the existing home sales data for March last week.  Units sold are near the pre-recession highs for the month of March and the Average Sales Price spiked as inventory of existing homes remains at near historic lows, regardless of month.This week we received the new home sales data for March.The data looks fairly good. The problem is that the 12 month trend is better than where we have been for the past decade and worse than it was March of 1992 through March of 2008. The new home sales data was worse than we may have been told.

(April 27) Thursday was the release of the weekly unemployment claims data. Instead of discussing 17 year lows for first-time unemployment claims and continuing claims, again, and explaining how this is an unintended consequence of an elevate level of people working part-time jobs and an elevated level of people working two jobs, this column published an article regarding Friday's upcoming Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report. This author used to be a Realtor. When working with buyers and sellers part of my job was to manage expectations - that way they new a good deal when they saw it. First Quarter has been a sluggish quarter. We have seen negative Annualized GDP rates during the first quarter four of the past nine years. The real GDP, the same quarter annual data,  has been under two percent seven times since 2005. The net net of "What to Expect from First Quarter GDP" was that we could see a relatively strong annualized GDP rate (1.5%-2.0%) and the Real GDP could be even better  (1.7%-2.3%)

(April 28)  So what happened to the GDP? It disappointed people who did not read my forecast column.The majority of the coverage was "GDP comes in at 0.8% - disappoints - now back to our coverage on Michael Flynn, Korea, and Trump's first 100 days." This week we saw that the Annualized GDP was better than 2011Q1 and 2014Q1, it was better than those first quarters that were negative, and it was equal to 2016Q1 from last year.  The Column "First Quarter Annualized GDP Okay, Real GDP Strong" found that the Real GDP edged down to 1.9% - within expectations. This column also includes data on Income Levels, Net Income Levels, Net Saving rate, Capital Improvement Expenditures and other data than the headline hypothetical Annualized GDP  growth rate and the severely lagging Real GDP for the past twelve months .

(April 29)Week in Review - 100 Days