Jack Dunn - Reclaiming Common Sense

Unemployment Claims Record Increases, Report Decreases


This week the President gave his farewell address and was taking a victory lap for cutting unemployment in half. Readers of this column know that there have been numerous articles refuting this FACT (False Assertion Considered to be True.) Readers of this column know that the effective unemployment rate, that rate which incorporates the changes in workforce participation, exceeds 9% and may be as high as 12.12% right now. Regular readers of this column know that the First-time Unemployment (FTU) claims streak is a FACT. It did not start until January of 2016 and it ended during November of 2016. It is at 5 weeks, not 97 weeks. It is ironic that the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) FTU streak is 5 consecutive weeks over 300,000 while the SA FTU streak is five weeks under 300,000. So what happened this week.


First-time Unemployment Claims Increased from 350,561 to 409,869, non-seasonally adjusted. This is not the only thing that increased. The number of NSA FTU claims for Dec. 24th was increased from 338,048 to 342,579. The number of NSA FTU claims for Dec. 31st was increased from 348,039 to 350,561. This is still a sixteen year low. The problem is that people lost jobs during December when they normally do not, according to the NSA Current Population Survey data released in the monthly jobs report. Another problem is that we saw a decrease in the number of people working multiple jobs during the month of December. These people are "less employed" and not "unemployed." There is no "less employed insurance."


Did we have 247,000 SA First-time Unemployed, 280,000 or 295,000? Last year the seasonal factor used to convert the NSA FTU data to the SA FTU data was 1.465. Multiply the NSA data by 1.465 and you obtain the SA FTU number. When skewed seasonal factors are used to create SA data FACTs are created. If we used the seasonal factor from the first week of January 2001 then we would have had a similar seasonally adjusted data point. If we used the seasonal factor from 2015 then it would have been reported as 257,000 or 276,000 claims. If we used the 2016 seasonal factor then we would have had 280,000 SA FTU claims reported. Using 2011's seasonal factor we would have had 296,000 SA FTU claims reported.


Continuing Claims Ended the Year Up - Over 2.460 million continuing claims. The NSA Continuing Claims (CC) data for the prior two weeks, December 17th and December 24th, were both revised upwards, as were the NSA FTU claims values. The continuing claims data lags one week behind the first-time claims number. The December 17th data was revised up from 2,102,275 to 2,111,0999. The data from Dec, 24th was revised upward from 2,249,628 to 2,253,543. The problem here is just like the problem with the NSA FTU claims number, you have to qualify for FTU claims to become a CC statistic. If you lost a part-time job, no benefits. If you lost a seasonal job, no benefits. If you lost one of two or more jobs, no benefits.


The Seasonally Adjusted Claims Data is Fake News.


It's the economy.