Reclaiming Common Sense

(Jan. 1) The week started with a review of 2017. The first review was the Top Ten Articles of December 2017. The readers of this column must come here for their Saturday Morning news as five of the top ten articles were "Week in Review" articles. The other articles pertained to the ADP jobs report, the weekly unemployment claims data where "Apples and Pomegranates" were being compared, and an article from 2016 where it was detailed that President Obama's Job Streak either ended during January 2015 or May of 2016.

(Jan. 1) The end of the year also brings a Top Ten Articles of the Year article. Some months this column is "on a roll." Sometimes one article captures your attention during the course of a month. The "Top Ten Articles of 2017" includes the top articles of the year and the top articles of each month. The most read article of 2017 was written over Thanksgiving Weekend: "Federal Budget: When Off-Budget isn't Off-Budget." Jobs data, Weekly Unemployment Claims Data, Real Estate Sales data, and ADP data rounded out the top ten. A similar pattern is seen in the top articles of the individual months.

(Jan. 2) The Monday or Tuesday before the release of the ADP jobs report and the Monthly Employment Situation report this column writes articles projecting what to expect from the individual reports. The first article was "Dec. Jobs Forecast: Up is Really Up." It was projected that we could see real, non-seasonally adjusted Current Employment Statistics (CES) Private Sector Worker growth (we normally see worker numbers drop during December and January.)  It also projected that non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs losses would be converted to seasonally adjusted (SA) Jobs gains. Further, it projected that unemployment could increase slightly and that all of this would combine for an increase in the reported SA workforce participation rate. As "always," this article implored the reader to watch the growth rate, the seasonal adjustments, and the revisions to the data previously released. It was projected that the range of growth would be 162,000 to 249,000 and to expect a number that could be as high as 300,000. It was thought that the growth rate would be 0.01% and the seasonal factor would be 0.9953. This will be important.

(Jan. 2) The ADP Jobs report normally gives us a glimpse to what to expect from the Employment Situation Report. The weakness in this report is that it is all seasonally adjusted data. Where the Employment Situation report provides seasonally adjusted data and non-seasonally adjusted data the ADP report only reports the SA data. The ADP Forecast article projected increases in seven of the ten private sectors and a potentially an  increase of over 2.00% from last December which would yield a "jobs number" between 246,000 and 267,000. This confirmed the Employment Situation forecast.

(Jan. 3) When analyzing the data there are a number of ways to examined trends. The Rolling Year data examines what has happened to a certain data set during the past twelve months, December to December or May to May. When jobs grow the economy grows. The question at the beginning of 2017 was "Is there a 2.0% tipping Point" in non-seasonally adjusted worker growth?" "Worker Growth Rate Going Under-reported" discussed the rolling year growth rate.

(Jan. 4) Thursday was a big day with the release of the ADP jobs Report at 8:15 AM EST and the Weekly Unemployment Claims Report at 8:30 AM EST. Both reports required a little data analysis. "Dec. ADP Jumps 250,000" was the first article of the day. The annual growth rate was 2.23% and nine out of ten sectors added seasonally adjusted jobs.

(Jan. 4) The weekly unemployment claims report was the lead story at the bottom of the 8:00 news hour for years. They still produce the weekly report. The data is seriously good. Where the authors of the report created FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True) by comparing seasonally adjusted data from different seasons with massively different seasonal factors this column has written hundreds of articles on the non-seasonally adjusted data. "Seriously Low Continuing Unemployment Claims Data" detailed how the SA Continuing Claims data could have been reported at 1.7 Million instead of 1.9 million claims and how the SA First-time Unemployment Claims data could have been reported at 218,000. Remember under 2 million is good for the Continuing Claims data and under 300,000 is good for first-time claims.

(Jan. 5) The December Jobs Report was within the range of expectations. The seasonal factors used to convert the NSA data to the Reported SA data were significantly lower than they were during December 2016. While the seasonal factor was also within the range of expectations, it skewed the data so low that it is remarkable. This column "knew" that the authors of the report would not use the 2016 seasonal factor.  Here's the thing: The upward revisions to the November Seasonally Adjusted data "borrowed" some of the gains during December and the seasonal Factor handicapped the data lower by 110,000 than they would have been reported if they used the 2016 seasonal factor. "Dec. Jobs Report: 146,000 workers added or 256,000" goes into detail regarding the CPS and the CES data.

(Jan. 6)Week in Review

(Jan. 8) The December Jobs Report, or Employment Situation Report, was released January 5th. This column published an article that showed how the official seasonally adjusted private sector worker number was reported considerably lower than it would have been if the seasonal factor from December 2016 was applied to the December 2017 data.  Monday's article "Five Presidents after Eleven Months" reported that President Trump has overseen the largest addition of non-seasonally adjusted workers during his first eleven months than his prior two term predecessors. It was also reported that President Trump has seen jobs added faster than the workforce population has grown.

(Jan. 9) There is more data reported than the headline jobs number. The participation rate dipped a little bit last month because some people were over-participating last month while other were under-participating. "Multiple Jobs Workers up during December" goes into detail.

(Jan. 9) I was watching the news on Tuesday and the comment of how we are in a "Retail Ice Age" reared its ugly head for the umpteenth  time. The "Retail Ice Age" is one of many urban legends that was created under the Obama Era. "Economic Urban Legends" discussed the Retail Ice Age legend and five other legends, including President Obama's job streak legend and President Obama's First-time Unemployment Claims streak legend.

(Jan. 10) There was a "Jobs Iceberg" during the Obama years. The number of full-time jobs dropped while the number of part-time jobs grew. The drop was further below the "waterline" than the part-time icecap was above the water. This "Jobs Iceberg" happened more both men and women workers. The problem is that men work seasonal jobs in such sectors as manufacturing, construction, and mining/logging.  This month there were fewer men working full-time jobs than during July 2007.

(Jan. 11) Breaking News: Thursday is still First-time Unemployment Claims Day. Guess what. There were fewer first-time unemployment claims than any first week of January this century.  Okay, that goes back to 2000. What about the prior century? When there were tens of millions of fewer workers eligible for unemployment benefits. The first First-time Unemployment Claims Datum for 2018 was remarkable.

(Jan. 12)We had the best retail sales year ever during 2017. But let's discuss what may or may not have been said behind closed doors, in a private meeting. Why would we want to hear good news?

(Jan. 12) Two economic reports were released on Friday Two less-than-politically correct statements were possibly made this week. One racists, sexist statement was made on tape by Nancy Pelosi. One comment was allegedly made behind closed doors - some people in the room heard a less than desirable statement, some people in the room denied hearing that statement. Which got more coverage? Did you hear about the Consumer Price Index data that showed commodity deflation and service inflation?

(Jan. 13)Week in Review

(Jan. 15) This week started with a forecast column for the December Real Estate reports, plural. The article "Dec. Real estate Forecast: Up" detailed how we could expect to see the new construction starts, under construction, and completions data be recorded as being higher than December 2016. The same could be said for new construction sales (January 25) and the Existing Home Sales (Jan. 24) The main thing slowing down sales is inventory.

(Jan. 15)
The December Jobs Report was released January 5th. The report was mostly forgotten by January 6th. This column writes multiple articles every month on the Jobs Report data. Two weeks ago this column wrote articles comparing President Trump to the four most recent two-term Presidents, as well as the multiple job holder data, and the "War on Men" article. This week that analysis continued with sector data and "Stronger than reported Dec. Sector Worker Growth." There are eleven "super sectors" that are monitored. Ten of those Super Sectors saw improvement over December 2016.

(Jan. 17)
The recession, and the recovery, has impacted people differently depending upon jobs, gender, and age. "Red, Gray and Blue: December's Aging Workforce" details how fewer people who are under the age of 24 are working this December than during December 2016. Participation varies by age, too. Some of the changes in participation and employment are due to a shift in the workers into different age groups.

(Jan. 18)
There are still unemployed workers. There is still a weekly unemployment claims report that is released. "Unloved Unemployment Claims Data" details how the non-seasonally adjusted claims datum was lower for the second week of 2017 than the second week of 1970. The same can be said for the first week of 2017 continuing claims and the first week of 1970.

(Jan. 18)
The New Construction data was seriously ignored as the Schumer Shutdown loomed. The Article "Starts up 8% from 2016" details how starts were up from 2016, the number of units under construction were up from December 2016, and the number of completions were up from December 2016. It also detailed how Starts, Under Construction and Completions were up for the entire year from 2016. This year was better than 2008 through 2016.

(Jan. 19) The unemployment claims report was lost in the news cycle this past week. The new construction data was lost this week, too. The monthly treasury report on spending was also lost in the news cycle. It is ironic that a report on revenue and spending would be ignored as we were heading towards a potential, now real, government shutdown. "Schumer Shutdown and Spending" explains how this budget was due June 30th, a new budget is due to be submitted the First week of February, and how "on-budget deficits" are offset partially by "off-budget" surpluses.

(Jan.20) Week in Review

(Jan. 22) The week started with a shutdown, the Schumer Shutdown for Illegal Immigrants. The first article of the week details how this problem was created by a memo during the run-up to the Presidential Election of 2012, what is being done regarding Visa Overstays and Kate's Law, and what the costs of inaction are.

(Jan. 24)
We received some remarkable data regarding existing home sales. We saw a record average sales price for the month of December. We also saw a level of inventory lower than anything on record back to January 1999. It was "Remarkable December Existing Home Sales Data." There was a lot to discuss.

(Jan. 24)
Thursday was a busy morning with the release of the weekly unemployment claims data and the Monthly New Home Sales data. We saw the lowest EVER non-seasonally adjusted first-time claims number for the third week of January.The program started during 1967. The lowest  during the past 51 years. First-time claims tend to drop from here through the end of Summer. The continuing claims data is on the decline as well.

(Jan. 25) 
The new home sales data was also remarkable. The new homes sales were misunderstood.We have a new home inventory problem just as we have an existing home inventory problem. Inventory is rising for new home sales. We set a December record for the average sales price as it approached $400,000. We had our best year since 2007. It is also remarkable that the media mostly ignored the data as being "unimpressive." December was up 10% over December 2016. The entire year was up 8% over the 2016 level of sales. That deserves some remarks.

(Jan. 26)
What is up with the Gross Domestic Product? The Real GDP, the value that tells us where we have been during the past 12 months was up for the sixth consecutive quarter.The Annualized GDP, the headline GDP, came in at 2.6%.This is pretty good when you consider that there were two quarters of growth over 3% preceding it. The times where we have had a fourth quarter over 3% it was because the GDP was bouncing up from a value of 1.3% (2009,) or 0.8% (2011,) or 0.1% (2006) during the third quarter. It was significant because we saw Personal Consumption Expenditures rise (although not as much as it could have been reported,) Gross Private Domestic Investments rose, Exports rose, and Government Expenditures rose.

(Jan. 27) Week in Review

(Jan. 29) The forecast of the ADP report was released Monday.It was thought that there were going to be month to month seasonally adjusted job gains in nine of the ten sectors.There was the possibility of some minor January to January declines. The most important thing was the annual growth rate.

(Jan. 30)
The big report is the Employment Situation Report. The "Jobs Report" is created by using two different data sets, the Current Employment Statistics worker data and the Current Population Survey jobs data. "Jan. Jobs Forecast: Seasonal Greatness" went into details as to how important the revisions to the prior data would be, as well as the importance of the seasonal factors used and the growth rates, especially the population growth rate. Was 200,000 jobs possible? Yup. 300,000 Jobs? Possibly. 400,000 jobs.....

(Jan 31)
Wednesday we received a "Remarkable January ADP Jobs Report." There was month to month seasonally adjusted job growth in nine of ten sectors. The growth rate was better than almost any January going back to 2003. This improving growth rate caused this column to speculate that the Employment Situation report might even be better  than originally thought.