Reclaiming Common Sense

(Aug. 1)  The most current, and most ignored, piece of economic data is the weekly unemployment claims data. This week we received the lowest non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time unemployment claims level for the fourth week of July ever. "Record Low First-time Claims Level for Fourth Week of July" also notes that this was the eleventh week this year that the NSA FTU was recorded under 200,000 claims. We had one such week during 2015, two during 2016, and four during 2017.

(Aug. 2)
We have a record level of Private Sectors workers and a Record Level of Jobs.  We saw more NSA CES workers join the workforce this July than we saw during the month of July during 2010-2013, and July 2017, and July 2018. That is not what was reported in the SA data. It was reported that we added fewer workers than we added during July 23011-13, and fewer workers than July 2016, and fewer than July 2017. "Record Level of Full-time Jobs and Workers" also illustrated that we had a higher participation rate and a lower unemployment rate than we had during July 2014. The participation rate and unemployment rate fell in tandem between 2010 and 2016. The participation rate during January 2017 was lower than it ever was under former President Reagan.

(Aug. 3) "Week in review: Jobs, Workers, Participation" includes the above articles plus those regarding the ADP payroll report forecast, the Employment Situation forecast article, and the ADP report article.

(Aug. 5)  The July Jobs Report received a lukewarm response even though we set a record for total jobs and a record level of private sector workers. The workers and wages data has been strong for months on end. This month we set records for hourly wages for the month of July. "July Wages Up, Workers Up, Record Highs" goes into details.

(Aug. 6)  Former President Obama wanted to compare his final two years in office with President Trump's first 20 months in office (Did he need the fourth month advantage?) Now people are attempting to compare the first 30 months of President Trump with the final thirty months former President Obama. The article "Five Presidents after 30 months: Most Full-time Jobs Created" uses the Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs and unemployment data to compare the accomplishments of former Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. Hint: President Trump has almost created as many new full-time jobs after 30 months in office as former President Obama created new over 96 months.

(Aug. 6)  The July Jobs Report was released last week. The June JOLTS report was released this week. "June JOLTS Data: Some Surprises" explains that while we did not set a July record for Job Openings this year we did set a July record for Quits. The same for sectors have the most Job Openings, Hiring, Quits, and Total Separations.

(Aug. 7)  There is a considerable amount of data in the jobs report that is not addressed very often. The CPS jobs and unemployment data has information on age, race, and gender. There is data on the number of people working multiple jobs. The article "Record July for Men, Women, and Multiple Job Workers" reveals how we have a record level of men working full-time jobs (this has not always been the case,) a record July level of women working jobs (Women recovered from the recession before men did,) and how we set a record level of July Multiple Job workers (8.305 Million.)

(Aug. 8) 
The weekly unemployment claims report used to be bottom of the hour headline news while the former President was touting consecutive weeks with 300,000 or fewer seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims. This week we set the "Weekly Record for the first week of August" when the non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims number was recorded At just 178,895 claims.

(Aug.9) We were supposed to enter a never ending recession when President Trump was elected. We have had people in the media anticipating a Government Shutdown Recession or a Fourth Rate Hike Recession. Bill Maher has been hoping for a recession to unseat President Trump. That call was renewed this week. The economic data has been better than it has been reported by a large share of the media. The article "Will this be the First Media Created Recession" examines the jobs data, the worker data, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data, the MARTS Retail Sales Data, the New Home Construction, New Home Sales, and Existing Home Sales data. The answer to the question "not if they report on the data instead of the reports."

(Aug. 10) "Week in review: Digging into the Data." This week the focus was on the roller coaster called the stock market. Once the Jobs Report is released it normally receives attention for a few hours or one day. The phrase "It's the Economy, Stupid" originated during the 1992 re=election bid of George HW Bush. That election was also famous for the phrase "Read My Lips, No New Taxes." "All" recession are jobs recessions. When people lose jobs they are making less money and spending less money.  This economy may be doing better if GDP data and Jobs and Worker data from President Trump wasn't being revised back to the Obama Administration's data.

(Aug. 12) The week started with a forecast for the July MARTS retail sales report. "July Retail Should Exceed $500 billion" examined the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) and the Seasonally Adjusted (SA) Marts data. The expectations were for retail sales to rebound with same month growth surging in Non-store retail,  taking some sales from tradition stores.

(Aug 13.) There has been a considerable amount of babble as to whether or not we have been entering a deflationary period. We have only had two periods of deflation since 1981. The first deflationary period was nine months during 2009. The second period was ten months during 2015. We have seen commodity deflation, service inflation, shelter inflation, and health insurance inflation. "July Inflation Report: Watching Commodities" details that this that these trends are continuing and that Health Insurance Inflation has hit 15.9%. Yes. Fifteen point nine per cent.

(Aug. 14) The July real estate forecast was three forecasts in one: The New Home Construction report, the New home Sales Report, and the Existing Home Sales report. "July Real Estate Forecast: Looking Up" compared the data for new home starts, units under construction, completions, new home inventory, new home sales, existing home inventory, and existing home sales. It detailed how starts could drop from month to month and rise from July to July.

(Aug. 14) Two months ago some of the talking heads on television were lamenting the lack of revenue from corporations and how the lack of revenue was boosting the deficit. Last month the year to date corporate revenue and individual revenue were almost identical to last year, even after the tax rate cuts. "Record July Tax Revenue, Near Record Spending" details how on-budget revenue is up, off-budget revenue is up, and how both corporate revenue and individual revenue are up this year, year to data, compared to last year.

(Aug. 15) We record our thirteenth week of fewer than 200,000 non-seasonally adjusted first-time claims. This places us ahead of last year's record pace toward 21 weeks. This is covered in the article  "First-time and Continuing Claims Up?" We are still at or near historic lows for the current week of the year.

(Aug. 16) We had a record July Retail sales month with $532 billion in total retail sales. "Jumping July MARTS Retail Report" explains how we grew at a current year rate of 2.97%, a rolling year rate of 3.45% and a current month rate of 4.79%. It also explains how some sectors dropped July to July as non-store retail sales spiked 9.79% month to month, 19.27% July to July, and 13.76% year to date.

(Aug. 16) There were some commentators who were lamenting the slowing seasonally adjusted new construction starts that were reported on Friday for the month of July. The thing is that July  Starts were at their highest level since July 2007. The same is true for July units under construction and July Completions. This data is the non-seasonally adjusted, non-annualized data, also known as reality. "July Starts, Under Construction, and Completions up from July 2018 level" also explains the seasonality of starts versus completions.

(Aug. 17) "Week in Review: Retail Sales, Real Estate, CPI." The news this week was remarkable. We aren't in a deflationary period of  time. We are seeing modest inflation. Doomsayers were saying that the trade battle with China would boost inflation. Retail sales spiked this year. The "experts" were expecting weak data. This was the best July ever. Anti-trump forces are hoping for unemployment to spike. First-time claims were under 200,000 claims, NSA, for the thirteenth time this year while having a record level of covered insured.  New home starts, units under construction, and completions were all at July highs as compared with July 2008 through July 2018. Tax revenues are up even with lower tax rates. People are earning more money and keeping more money.

(Aug. 19) There has been a considerable amount of discussion that the 2 year - 10 year rate curve inverted this week. This rate inversion has been discussed since at least the 1990s. The article "2-10 Rate Inversion is not the best predictor of a Recession" examined the inversion data and the jobs data since 1979. The inversion have to last months, not just moments.

(Aug. 20)  We received the July Jobs Report earlier this month. This column publishes a variety of articles regarding the Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs and unemployment data and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) workers and wages data. This column produced an article on the Teen Participation Problem during August of 2018. "July's Aging Population: Teen Participation Spiked" examined the participation rates, employment level, and unemployment level of the workforce by age group. Those workers 16-19 and 20-24 are still "underparticipating" and those over the age of 60 are still "overparticipating."

(Aug. 21) The July existing home sales (EHS) data was the second highest amount of July sales since July 2007. The June Existing Home Sales was a disappointment.  The July Existing home sales data revealed that another July Average Sales Price Record was set. We saw the recorded non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) EHS data jump higher than the June NSA EHS data. The July data nearly matched the May data. to say that "July Existing Home Sales Surpass Expectations" is an understatement. Oh, the yield curve inverted momentarily.

(Aug. 22) The weekly unemployment claims report received "Headline News at the bottom of the Hour" coverage from 2007 through roughly July of 2016, as the "Seasonally Adjusted (SA) First-time Unemployment (FTU) claims streak FACT (False Assertion Considered to be True) received "wall-to-wall coverage. They were discussing the SA FTU level being under 300,000 claims.  Last week we had 21 weeks of non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment (FTU) claims under 200,000 claims. The best year prior to that was 1967 with 19 weeks and then 1973 with 13 weeks under 200,000 claims. This week the NSA FTU fell to 169,613.This was the "Fourteenth Week under 200,000 First-time Claims," non-seasonally adjusted. The yield curve inverted briefly on Thursday.

(Aug. 23)  This Friday we received the July New Home Sales data. This column had projected that new home sales would exceed last year's level of 52,000 units. We hit 53,000 units. The headlines elsewhere were that New Home Sales fell by 12%. How could this be? The majority of the coverage ignored that hey June sales data were revised up by 9,000 units, from a modest 57,000 units to a remarkable 66,000 units. New home sales tend to peak during March, April, or May, so the annualized rate of sales "always" declines during July. The annualized rate of sales spiked for June from 646,000 units to 728,000 units. This month that annualized level dropped to 635,000. It is important to note that the official level for July 2018 was just 609,000. We are on-track for our best sales year since 2007.This is all covered in "July New Home Sales Better than 2017 and 2018." Guess what? The yield curve inverted momentarily on Friday.

(Aug. 24) "Week in Review: Strong Housing Sales" The discussion of a potentially inverted yield curve has been ongoing for weeks. It seemed to reach a fever pitch last week. This discussion led to an investigation into the times where were have nearly had a yield curve inversion and when we did have a yield curve inversion. We have a strong economy. Last week the retail sales data came in "stronger than expected." This week we had a rebound from the weak June Existing Home Sales data with the best July existing home sales month since July 2015. First-time Unemployment claims dropped to levels not normally seen during the third week of August. The new home sales data for July was deceptively good. We are on track for the best new home sales year since 2007. Should we  ignore what is happening month after month (existing home sales, new home sales, weekly unemployment claims) and focus on what is happening momentarily? No.

(Aug. 28) The ADP Payroll report is released the Wednesday immediately preceding the Monthly Employment Situation report. The ADP private sector payroll data is pointing towards a decent month to month number, with all but Information Technology and (Natural Resources (Mining and Logging) adding to their payrolls. It is possible that all sectors will grow from their August 2018 levels. "August ADP Forecast: Growth Except IT" tells the story.

(Aug. 29) The weekly unemployment claims data should be garnering headlines. "Fifteenth Week Under 200,000 First Time Claims" refers to the non-seasonally adjusted data. Continuing Claims continue to drop year over year, as does the Insured Unemployment Rate.

(Aug 30)  The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data was massively revised last month. There were minor revisions to the quarter to quarter GDP data and the same quarter GDP data. The revisions to the quarter to quarter data meant that we grew at an "annualized" rate of 2.0% rather than the 2.1% reported in the Advance GDP report that was released last month. Consumer Spending was strong. There were revisions to the same quarter GDP data. These revisions offset each other. Consumer Spending was strong here, also. "Second Quarter GDP Revised to 2.0%" goes into the details.

(Aug. 31) "Week in Review: Quiet Week" covered these three stories and reminded the readers to remember the workers who have created and maintained this Great American Economy this Labor Day Weekend.