Reclaiming Common Sense

(Feb. 1) How low can unemployment claims go this year? Unemployment Claims, first-time and Continuing, are at levels rarely seen during January. The unemployment insurance program started during 1967 with fewer than 53 million covered insured. Right now there are over 140 million covered insured. The seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims was reported at 230,000. They could have been reported under 220,000 claims. Continuing claims were reported at 1.95 Million claims. They could have been reported at 1.712 million claims.

(Feb 2) The Jobs Report was so strong that it tanked the markets? Really? What would have happened if they dug into the data and found that the data for 2016 and 2017 were revised higher and that these revisions softened the data down to 196,000 seasonally adjusted workers?  If the data from the December Jobs report were used as the basis of the "jobs number" then 452,000 jobs would have been added. It was a "January Jobs Surprise."

(Feb. 3) The data was so massively revised that what was normally covered in one article on Jobs Report Day became two. We saw "Seriously Strong January Jobs Data" details how this was one of the best Januarys since 2003. Unemployment popped higher and is still lower than January 2003 to date. It also detailed how the workforce population data was skewed high which lowered the workforce participation rate.

(Feb. 3)Week in Review

(Feb. 5)  The week began as last week ended, with a review article. The Thursday unemployment report and the Friday Jobs Report generated a considerable amount of data that had changed which delayed the release of the "Top Ten Articles of January" article. There are three week in review articles, one article on the Federal Budget and the Schumer Shutdown, one article on the Schumer Shutdown and illegal aliens, and an article from 2015 thrown in for good measure.

(Feb. 5)  How did President Trump do with regard to unemployment, jobs creation, and worker creation during his first 12 months in office compared to Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W, Bush, and Obama? "Five Presidents after 12 months" details how Presidents Clinton and Trump were the only Presidents to add non-seasonally adjusted jobs. President Clinton added net part-time jobs. President Trump added net full-time jobs. Both reduce unemployment.

(Feb. 6)  When the ADP jobs forecast article was published it was anticipated that all sectors except information technology would show month to month gains. That is what happened. Would the monthly Employment Situation Report reveal the same thing? The Employment Situation Report also includes data regarding the Government Sector. "January Jobs up in 10 of 11 sectors" digs into the Current Employment Statistics data.

(Feb. 7) One of the memes generated by the 2012 election was the "War on Women."  What would you say if I told you that women were winning the war? "January Jobs: Battle of the Sexes" details how women lost fewer full-time jobs than men lost during the recession. Women recovered all of their lost full-time jobs before men recovered theirs. Men are working fewer full-time jobs now than they were working during July 2007, the peak, pre-recession jobs month.

(Feb. 8) Thursday is Unemployment Claims Day whenever there isn't a national holiday.  When the first-time claims data fell below 300,000 seasonally adjusted claims there were "trumpets." We saw the non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims for the first week of February drop to the lowest level ever recorded. Instead of TRUMPets, we received crickets.  We saw "Crazy Low First-time Unemployment claims" actively ignored by the media and the DJIA convulsed.

(Feb. 9) Last week this column wrote two articles regarding the data used in the employment situation report. The Current Employment Statistics (CES) data measures workers. The Non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) and the seasonally adjusted (SA) CES data was revised from 2015 through 2017 for every month of the year. There were also revisions going back into the 1990s. The Current Population Survey (CPS) data measures unemployment workers, full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and the workforce population.  The only data that appeared to be "augmented" was the workforce population number. The population number spiked more than it had all year and rebounded by the same percentage as it was reduced during President Obama's final month of his Presidency.  The Jobs report includes data on the number of people working multiple jobs.  All of the seasonally adjusted data from January 2012 through November 2017 were revised. None of the underlying SA data was revised.  "January Record for Multiple Job Workers" details how we had the most people working two part-time jobs during January that has ever been reported. The same can be said for January workers working two full-time jobs.

(Feb 10)Week in Review

(Feb. 12)  This column finds inspiration from Internet memes, comments made by on-air personalities, and from economic data. The media has been pining for wage inflation - they got it - the are now concerned about wages rising. The were concerned over anemic inflation - they got inflation close to 2% - the supposed Federal Reserve Target Rate - now that we have some inflation they blame it for the massive stock market correct that we saw during the past month. The article "Inflation is Okay" explains the "Phillips Curve" and how we have had low inflation, inflation even at 3% or 4%, and low unemployment. It also details how the "effective unemployment" rate may be depressing inflation.

(Feb. 13)  Some of the most read articles on this website are the forecast articles. "A Potentially Jolly January Retail Report" examined the data and the trends month to month an year to year to project a possible 5% growth rate in the January data from January 2017.

(Feb. 14) there was a media-wide obsession with the Schumer Shutdown. This week the Treasury released the monthly financial statement for the government that reported a surplus. Crickets. There is "media-wide" concern regarding entitlement spending. The media lumps self-funding Medicare and Medicaid as well as self-funding Social Security as entitlements in with "welfare."

(Feb. 14)
The "experts" were expecting inflation to be reported at 1.9% for January. The official number came in at 2.1%. Oh, no, that is 10% higher than expected. No it's not. It's 0.2% higher than "expected" by "experts."  We are still seeing commodity deflation and service inflation. January 2018 inflation was lower than January 2017. Crickets times two.

(Feb. 14) The powers that be in the government like to rely on seasonally adjusted data to smooth out the normal peaks and troughs with regard to jobs creation, job loss, increases in unemployment, drops in unemployment, and, yes increases in retail spending, also known as Christmas spending, and troughs. We recorded our "Best January Retail Sales Month Ever." That is not what was reported elsewhere.  Crickets time three.

(Feb. 15) There are still people who are receiving unemployment benefits. The government still produces a weekly unemployment claims report.  We saw "Remarkable Weekly Unemployment Claims" recorded, non-seasonally adjusted, again. We saw slightly interesting seasonally adjusted  first-time unemployment claims ignored, again. Crickets time four.

(Feb. 15) The third forecast article this week was published Thursday in advance of the Friday New Construction Report. "January Real Estate Forecast: Up Again" commented on the upcoming New Construction Report, the soon to be released New Home Sales Report, and the potential sales and units data for the Existing Home Sales Report that will be released next week. It was anticipated that we would see higher Starts, Under Construction, and Completions data this January than were reported last January. It was also projected that we would see higher average sales prices for new and existing homes. The question was whether or not inventory shortages would impede the number of units sold.

(Feb. 16)
The January New Construction Report was solid. "January New Construction: Building Momentum" detailed how Starts, units Under Construction, and Completions were all up as compared with January 2017. Crickets times five.

(Feb. 17)Week in Review

(Feb. 21) The first economic report released this week was the Existing Home Sales Report for January. This column had written a cautionary forecast article that explained that existing home sales prices could set a record high and January inventory levels could see a record low. Both could influence the number of sales recorded. As always the seasonal factors could skew what was reported. "Jan. Existing Home Sales: Inventory and Sales Price Matter" detailed how the inventory level edged higher from the all-time low since January 1999. "experts" were discussing a drop in sales and ignoring that the January sales were more than those recorded during 2008-2016.

(Feb. 22) This week we received the weekly first-time unemployment claims data for the third week of January and the continuing claims data for the second week of February. We recorded the lowest first-time (FTU) claims data for the third week of February ever, going back to 1967. What was reported was that there were 229,000 seasonally adjusted FTU claims. That number could have been reported as low as 186,000 SA FTU claims. We had record low first-time unemployment claims data, again.

(Feb. 23) The hurricane season that we had this year was supposed to derail the Trump Expansion. It was thought that the people in Texas would be rebuilding for month or years. It was thought that Hurricane Harvey would be an Economic Hurricane. This column has written a number of articles on the economic impacts of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. This slow data week allowed some examination of the state data for Texas. The article "Texas Recovery from Harvey Complete?" examined the Current Employment Statistics (CES) data for workers and the LAUS data for Unemployment and found that seven out of ten super sectors had their highest ever level of workers for the month of December ever. The three sectors that are lagging from the "Great Recession" are mining and logging, Information Technology, and Manufacturing. The official unemployment rate this December was lower than December 2007 and almost as low as December 2000. How do you know if you are winning if you are not keeping score?

(Feb. 24) Week in Review

(Feb. 26) The economic impact of hurricane Irma was supposed to also negatively impact the GDP on a national basis. The article "2017 was a Good Year for Florida Workers" details how there were more people working during December 2017 than December 2016 - across all super sectors. It was also found that the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was a full percentage point lower than December 2007.

(Feb. 26) A key economic indicator is the level of new home construction. A second key indicator is existing home sales. a third key economic indicator is new home sales. New home construction has been improving. Existing Home Sales have been held back by a lack of inventory. This January we set a "January record for the Average Sales Price of New Homes."

(Feb. 27) This column writes a number of series of articles, regular monthly articles on the same subject. The monthly Jobs Report has spurred the creation of most of these series. One of the series is the "Red, Gray and Blue" series that covers our aging workforce. "January's Aging Workforce" breaks down the jobs data by age group. We had a record level of workers who are working over the age of 60 for the month of January

(Feb. 27) There are four main components to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP.) The four components of the GDP are the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE,) the Gross Private Domestic Investments (GPDI,) the level of Imports and Exports, and the amount of Government Expenditures. The article "What is the Real GDP" looked at the changes in the non-seasonally adjusted data and the seasonally adjusted data that should be the basis for the GDP.

(Feb. 28) We saw great retail sales data during the fourth quarter of 2017 and all of 2017. We saw improving data for new construction during the fourth quarter of GDP and all of 2017. We "always" see the government spend more money year in and year out. They didn't spend more money year over year during the recession. We "always" have an import gap. The GDP was revised down from the advance value of 2.6% to 2.5% for the preliminary value of the annualized GDP. The import deficit negated some of the gains from the other three components. "Fourth Quarter GDP: Importing Headwinds" goes into the details,