Reclaiming Common Sense

Unemployment Claims Rise  - Reported as Decline

Readers of this column know that I track the First-time Unemployment (FTU) claims number as well as the Continuing Claims (CC) Number.  The non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) claims number is what is recorded while the seasonally adjusted (SA) claims number is what is reported. The seasonal factor used to convert the NSA dat to the SA data change by category, FTU or CC, week. month, season, and year. The authors of the report are able to skew the data through the use of remarkable seasonal factors - some would say unbelievable. The use of skewed seasonal factors create FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True.)

The mac daddy of all FACTs is that we have had 96 consecutive weeks with seasonally adjusted claims under 300,000 people. The streak did not start until January of 2016 and ended during November of 2016.

We Have Had Five Consecutive Weeks with over 300,000 NSA First-time Unemployment Claims. We experience the NSA data - the Government believes in the SA data. It is true that this is the lowest level of NSA FTU claims during the past 16 years during this time of year. The problem is that we have an extremely low participation rate, and elevated number of people working two jobs, and anelevated level of people working part-time jobs.

Did we have 216,000 Claims, 261,000 or 235,000 Claims? If the authors of the report had used the seasonal factors from the fifth week of December 2000 they could have reported a SA FTU number of 216,000. Would anyone have believed it? If they used the seasonal factor from 2015 then they would have had to report a SA FTU number of 261,000. Instead they reported a value of 235,000. Crickets.

Continuing Claims Continue the Climb - Over 2 million for third consecutive week. The continuing claims level is at a 16 year low for the fifth week of December. You can't have continuing claims without first-time claims. You don't qualify for benefits if you lose one job and still have a second. You do not qualify if you are working a part-time job and lose your one and only job. You do not receive benefits if you lose a seasonal full-time job. This is a fake number.

Do we have 2 million (continuing claims) unemployed, 7 million (U-3) unemployed, or 17 million "effectively" unemployed workers?

We certainly have more than 300,000 first-time unemployment claims. We certainly do not have a streak.

It's the economy.