Jack Dunn - Reclaiming Common Sense


(Feb 1) Every month there are a series of columns written. Whether it is the monthly jobs report forecast article or the monthly job report result article, or the follow-up columns pertaining to men and women in the workforce, the level of dual job workers in the workforce or comparing the Four most recent two term Presidents at the same point in their Presidencies, the data keeps rolling and the articles keep flowing. Sometimes one column strikes a chord month in and month out. The month of January provides a unique opportunity for multiple "week in Review" columns, a "Top Ten Columns of December" columns and a "Top Ten of the Year" article.This column covers more than just the Jobs Report. Other items that are regularly presented in this column have to do with housing data, the consumer price index data, retail sales, and the weekly unemployment claims report. The article "Top Ten Columns of January 2017" reviews the most read columns of January.

(Feb 1)  This week the Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee abdicated their responsibility to vote on two of President Trump's nominees for cabinet positions. They boycotted the hearings, plural, en masse.  The column "Democrats Boycotting Nomination Votes" shows you who was boycotting and who is up for reelection during the 2018 mid-term elections plus provides Twitter handles for you to reach out to them.

(Feb 2)  The Weekly Unemployment Claims Report used to be a mainstay of Thursday morning business news. Channels would take a commercial break at 8:29 am and return with the report in the palms of their hands. There are three numbers in each weekly unemployment claims: The First-time (FTU) Claims, The Continuing Claims (CC,) and the Covered Unemployed Percentage. Each has a seasonally adjusted (SA) and a non seasonally adjusted (NSA) component. Each has an advance value, a preliminary value, and a final value. The preliminary data released this week increased both for the first time and continuing claim number. They are no longer promoting the SA FTU streak for weeks under 300,000 claims. This column has produced numerous article debunking the streak. Maybe someone who writes the weekly report read those articles. This week we saw the first-time claims data skewed, again.This week we saw the "Continuing Unemployment Claims Creep" higher.

(Feb 3) February 3rd was Jobs Report Day. There are two data sets that are used to create the jobs report and both data sets have a non-seasonally adjusted component and a seasonally adjusted component. The devil is in the details. The seasonal factors were skewed for both the Current Population Survey data and the Current Employment Statistics data. The population data was drastically revised downward, providing an imaginary bump to the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) workforce participation rate. The other missing story in other coverage is that part-time jobs fell dramatically. For more information read "Bogus January Jobs Numbers."


(Feb 4)  The Week in review covered these columns and the columns written at the end of January. This column  examined the data, filtered out the noise, and produced articles with both speed and accuracy. The problem is that the vast majority of the people reporting on the economic data are actually reporting on the report. It takes some digging into the data to find real patterns. It also takes effort to find the raw, non-seasonally adjusted data, and to keep track of the edits made to the data. Most data has an advance value, a preliminary value, and a final value. Sometime the final data is revised again. Sometimes there is so much going on in the world of government data that some of the data analysis is delayed. The analysis of the Consumer Price Index data was delayed until this past week. There was no delay in the analysis of the January Jobs Report data.


(Feb 6) This column has analyzed the claims of job production by this administration for years. It was essential to compare President Obama's accomplishments at the same point in his Presidency as the other two term Presidents. "Four Presidents at 96 months Participation Matters" compared President Obama with President Reagan, President Clinton, and President George W Bush (Bush 43.) We are not at, or near, full-employment. This column has been discussing "effective Unemployment" for months. This column finally coined the phrase/term "U-7 Unemployment" this month. President Obama added fewer than 5 million participants over eight years. President Bush added just over 10 million participants over his eight years in office. Presidents Reagan and Clinton added over 15 million participants to their economies. The U-7 is at least 9.98% this month.

(Feb 7) This has been an uneven recovery . Not all job sectors have recovered to pre-recession levels of jobs. "Five Sectors Still in Recovery" details how every sector lost jobs during the month of January, how this job loss is normal, and how the Mining and Logging Sector, the Construction Sector, The IT Sector, the Manufacturing Sector and the Government Sector are not back to January 2007 levels of employment. It also details how the 2016 data was revised between the December report and the January Report.


(Feb 8)  This column has been inspired to research topics based on memes on Twitter. One of those memes was the genesis for a November 2014 article titled "War on Women? Men lost 744,000 jobs during the month of November." This led to the creation of a regular feature of this website and its parallel website. This month  the article "The Forgotten Male Worker" detailed how there have been over 10 million male workers added to the workforce population since July 2007. The problem is that there are 1.6 million fewer full-time jobs for men and 1.8 million more part-time jobs for men. We need more than 177,000 jobs for 10 million male workers over a period of 9.5 Years.

(Feb 9) Did you know that they still publish weekly unemployment claims data? They do. They record the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time unemployment claims number and the continuing claims number. They report the seasonally adjusted (SA) first-time unemployment claims and continuing claims number.When they compare seasonally adjusted data from different seasons of the yea,r or different years with different seasonal factors, FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True)  are created.   We did not have the lowest SA First-time claims number since November 1973. Not even close."Unemployment Claims FACT misleads" goes into great detail.

(Feb 9) The data provided with the monthly jobs report  provides eye-opening data that is often ignored. If the jobs report says that we  added jobs we must have added jobs.One of the under-reported elements is the data that records  the state of the multiple job worker. Some people are working two part-time jobs, two full-time jobs, or a combination of part-time and full-time jobs.This past year we set a record for the most people working two part-time jobs during one month, ever. The data goes back to 1994. This month we had the second highest level of January workers working two part-time jobs and the second highest January level of people working two full-time jobs."January's Multiple Job Economy" goes into detail how this number is skewing the weekly unemployment claims data.

(Feb 10) There has been some discussion in the media that the reason why we are seeing a drop in the participation rate is because people are retiring and are still being counted as a part of the workforce population. They must not have read "The Forgotten Male Worker" or its predecessors. There is an interesting trend that is observed through the changing data over the past thirteen years. Some age groups, when tracked in five year intervals, are doing better than others. We are also seeing participation in the over 60 age groups increasing since the Great Recession. "The Aging Workforce - Class of 2007" tracks each age group and finds that we have a failure to participate.


(Feb 11) President Obama's final Jobs Report was released Friday February 3rd. The rest of the media was claiming this was President Trumps first jobs report. The data used for the January Jobs report was collected through January 12, 2017. The inauguration was January 20th. If you thought that there must be more to the Jobs report an the number of seasonally adjusted "jobs" added to the economy and the unemployment rate then you are correct. This column invests a ton of time and effort into analyzing the data. It starts with the Jobs Report Forecast column. The purpose of that is to prepare the readers for the possibilities, including the growth rates anticipated, the seasonal factors used to convert the recorded non-seasonally adjusted data to the reported seasonally adjusted data, and the notion that the prior month's data may be revised downward to "boost" the current month's data, as was done during the Month of May 2016. The January Jobs Report Review Column, titled "Bogus January Jobs Number,"detailed how the rate of contraction was better than expected and how the seasonal factor distorted the "jobs" number. That was a week ago Friday.  This week this column dug into the data and found some interesting items for discussion. The week in review column is here.


(Feb 14) Candidate Obama was commenting on the unpatriotic and irresponsible level of debt that President George W Bush had amassed. President Bush inherited a debt of roughly $5 trillion in debt. President Obama inherited a debt of Just over $10 trillion. President Trump is starting with a Debt of $19.9 trillion. The article "January Federal Debt at $19.975 trillion" digs into the monthly treasury report. Hint: Taxes are up.

(Feb 15)  Every month there is information released on the consumer price Index (CPI.) The CPI measures the changes in prices of a basket of goods and services.   The inflation rate changes from month to month and year to year fr every item in the basket. The weighting of the basket changes every month and every year.  "January Inflation Spikes, Shelter, Medicine, Energy"  digs into the data and compares the basket of goods from January 2015, January 2016, and January 2017. If you feel like you have less money at the end of the month tan you did the past two Januaries you are probably correct.

(Feb16) A regular feature of the morning news used to be the weekly unemployment claims number. A number under 300,000 seasonally adjusted (SA) first time unemployment (FTU) claims was deemed "healthy." The Obama administration was pushing a FACT regarding consecutive weeks with under 3000,000 SA FTU claims.  This data set has a similar story with the seasonal factors. The factors change week by week, month by month, season by season and year to year. The article "Unemployment Claims Misleads Us, Again" details how we could have had a number of 218,000 SA FTU claims reported as easily as the official 239,000 or a higher 251,000 claims. It's good. It is a seventeen year low. So is our participation rate.

(Feb 16)  Another important piece of data was released this week.  The Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey (MARTS) was released with the current month's data and the prior months' revisions. "January Retail Report's Mixed Message" examines where we are and where we have been. There was a huge drop-off in monthly sales from the Christmas levels of sales - not reported because the rest of the media covers the seasonally adjusted data. retail sales were down in four sectors compared to January 2016.  The Electronics and Appliance Sector and the Furniture and Furnishing Sectors have not returned to pre-recession levels. 


(Feb 17) The most misunderstood and misrepresented data, other than the Jobs number, is the data relating to housing. We are doing better than we were doing at the depth of the recession of 2009. The problem is that new construction data is still worse than what we saw after prior recessions, plural. The Housing starts are no longer failing - they just are not getting a grade better than a "D." The same could be said regarding the completions data. "Weak January New Construction Data" examines the non-seasonally adjusted data and the revisions.


(Feb 18) If you are watching the news or reading the paper then you know that there is a new President in the White House. You may not realize that that the government is still running and producing reports on the economy. The authors of these reports live in a seasonally adjusted, advance data, preliminary data, final data world.This week we saw the Treasury Report released, New Home Construction Data, Inflation data, Retail Sales data, and Unemployment Data. Everything except the Treasury Report has a seasonally adjusted component and a non-seasonally adjusted component.


(Feb 22) You may have read or heard elsewhere that this was the best January for existing home sales during the past decade. The problem is that that is only part of the story. While we did set a record for the average sales price, and while we did sell more units than January 2008-2016, another story is that we still sold fewer units than were sold during  January 2002-2007. We also have a lower existing home inventory level than we had during December 1999. "January Existing Home Sales Solid, Disconcerting" explains that we cannot sell existing homes if there are "no" homes to sell. A lack of supply may cause existing home sale price to soar or shift people to the new home market to satisfy buyer demand.

(Feb 23) The Weekly unemployment claims report was released. Major news organizations, if they covered the release, were mislead into believing that the report was a good report and the best that we have seen since 1973. It was the best data recorded during this week of the year since 2000. The problem is that fewer people qualify for unemployment benefits. The authors of the report also skewed the seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims lower tan it should have been reported. "Weekly Unemployment Claims Mislead, Again" discusses the seasonal factors and the revisions to the weekly data.

(Feb 24) The new home sales data was released this past Friday. The data came in weaker than expected for some prognosticators. We have had weak new home construction data. Low starts means low completions which means low sales. "January New Home Sales Underwhelm" details how the current pace of sale for January was better than we have seen during 2009-2016 that it was worse than almost every year between1983-2008. One month does not determine the course of the year. The problem is that we are starting at a lower annual pace of sales than we saw during January 1984 or January 1993. It does not look like we will hit the 600,000 level that the prognosticators are expecting.


(Feb 25) The week in review was concise due to the release of just three articles that week.


The month was short and sweet. The articles written attempted to be concise and reveal the true information that was released in various reports without the spin of the authors of the reports.