Reclaiming Common Sense

(Jan. 2) After a shorter break than Congress took this column published the article "Decidedly Good Jobs Forecast" article. This article projected the possibility for a strong jobs report, at lest 230,000 seasonally adjusted private sector workers added during December. It also gave a warning to watch the revisions and watch the seasonal factors used in the report.

(Jan. 3) The first piece of economic data released on Thursday was the ADP Payroll Report for December. This report gives some insight as to what to expect from the Private Sector Current Employment statistics. It excludes the government payroll data. Government jobs are included n the "headline" non-farm payroll data. "Final ADP Report for 2018" dug into the data and found that we had our best year since 2015 and that, if the massive revisions of the 2016 and 2017 data had not happened with the release of the February ADP report, this would have been considerably better than 2015 and comparable to 2014.

(Jan. 3)  The advance weekly unemployment claims data for the final week of December was released fifteen minutes after the ADP report was released. "Final Unemployment Claims Report of 2018: Remarkable" reviewed the first-time unemployment claims data for the fifth week of December, the continuing unemployment claims data and insured unemployment rate data for the fourth week of December, and found that we have 277,000 fewer continuing unemployment claims than we had during the fourth week of 2017. This bodes well for the first week of January when we normally hit our annual high.

(Jan. 4)  To say that the December Jobs report caught others flatfooted would be an understatement. "The Final Jobs Report of 2018: Stellar" was the first article written regarding the December Jobs Report detailed just how good it was. There were 301,000 seasonally adjusted (SA) Private Sector workers added during December. If the 2016 seasonal factor was used then that number could have been 355,000. If there had been no revisions to the data for October and November this number could have approached 400,000. Participation continues to improve.

(Jan. 4) The "jobs  report" includes a cornucopia of data that takes days, or manpower, to disseminate. "Strong Wage and Worker Growth" was the second article regarding the December Jobs and Workers data. What happens when the number of workers grows by over 2%, non-seasonally adjusted (NSA,) wages, NSA, grow by over 3%, and hours worked grow by 3%? Total Income rose by over 7% compared to December 2017. What happens when income improves over 7%? The economy should keep growing.

(Jan. 5)Week in Review; Strong Data covered these articles plus the ADP Forecast Article

(Jan. 7) The December Jobs Report was strong. If you dig into the data you will find that President Trump and former President Clinton are the only Presidents who have cut unemployment, added full-time jobs, and seen their workforce participation rates increase from their inauguration after 23 months in office. The article "Five Presidents at 23 Months: Participating" did just that.

(Jan. 8)  The jobs report received this month was the December Employment Situation Report. This week we received the November JOLTS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data. We set "November JOLTS Records, Plural." We set November records for Job Openings, Quits, Separations, and Hires. Three of the four sectors that had the highest quits, separations, hires and job openings have the lowest weekly wages.

(Jan. 9) This column writes a number of articles on the Jobs Report data."Men and Women: Record Levels of December Jobs" shows how there were a an all-time record  women working this month and that men had their best December ever.It also details how we are missing millions of male and female workers. It also digs into the multiple job worker data.

(Jan. 10) The first week of January is traditionally the worst week for First-time unemployment claims during the course of a year. We had the lowest non-seasonally adjusted level of first-time claims since January 1973. But wait, there's more. We have more than 80 million more covered insured (workers) now than we had during 1967-1973 and only 4,000 more first-time claims. There is a similar story for the continuing claims data.

(Jan. 10) Virtually every data set has an "advance," "preliminary," and "final" version of the current month's data. Normally there are revisions to the advance data the following month. Normally there are revisions to the preliminary data the month after that. Almost all organization have a year in review. The article "2019: Year in Review, Year in Revisions" details how the "Jobs" data, the "ADP Payroll Report Data," The MARTS Retail data, and the GDP data" were all significantly revised this year. The revisions were significant enough to revise the narrative.

(Jan. 11) This column publishes forecast articles as well as articles that report on the data in the various economic reports, published by the government, over the course of the year. Right now there are some reports for which forecast articles are written that may not be published due to the Government Shutdown. One of the reports that may not be released is the Monthly MARTS Retail Report. That is unfortunate. The article "December Retail Report Could Be Huge If..." details how the data should grow month to month, and December to December, setting both December records for sales and an first time ever $6 trillion in total sales for 2018. The report could be huge, if only it is released.

(Jan. 11) The Federal Reserve has two "mandates:" Full-employment and inflation around 2.00%. There is an economic theory that you can have low unemployment at the expense of higher inflation. The theory goes that you can have low inflation only with higher unemployment. This is called the Phillips Curve. The Phillips  Curve was broken during the 1990s by the "Greenspan Curve," when we had low unemployment and low inflation. The Phillips Curve was broken another time by the "Obama Curve." We achieved low unemployment as a result of low participation. We saw the official CPI inflation rate drop below 2% during December. That is not the whole story. You can find out more in "December Inflation. What Inflation?"

(Jan. 12)Week in Review: Great Start to 2019 detailed the CPI data, as well as data on jobs and unemployment.

(Jan. 14) The media talking point regarding this Government Shutdown is that every week that the government is shutdown costs us 0.1% to 0.2% in GDP. The "problem" with this talking point is that the starts of the shutdown began at the end of the fourth quarter. Another problem is that the continuation of the Shutdown is hitting the first quarter.  The article  "The Government Shutdown May Not Show Up in the Government Data" goes into detail how the economy has been growing and that growth should offset the "slowing" of the partial government shutdown.

(Jan. 16) The monthly Real Estate Forecast Article used to be two or three articles. It takes a considerable amount of data crunching to publish the forecast. This month the question is why exert the effort to publish a forecast article if the government workers were not going to publish their reports? "December Real Estate Surprise Forecasted" was anticipating the best new construct year since 2008, the best new construction sales year since 2008, and improving existing home sales and existing home inventory.

(Jan. 16) There was no December MARTS Retail Report published. Too bad.

(Jan. 17) There was no New Construction Report Published.

(Jan. 17)  Weekly claims for the second week of January were the third lowest for this week of the year since 1967. It was even better than that when you factor in the change in the workforce population. The continuing Unemployment Claims level was the lowest it had been for the first week of January since 1973. The insured unemployment rate, which spikes to the highest level for most years during the first week of January, was lower than the best week of 1988.  You would think that if the weekly unemployment claims report is the only game in town that someone would cover the good news.

(Jan. 19)Week in Review: What Reports covered what data was released and commented on the data that was not released due to the Government Shutdown of Data.

(Jan. 22) The week started by concluding the analysis of the December Jobs Report.  "Aging Workforce: December Records" details how older workers are working more, have higher unemployment levels, and have a higher participation rate than their younger counterparts.

(Jan. 22) The December Existing Home Sales data was released and immediately misunderstood. "Dec. Existing Home Sales: Mixed News" details how even while the units sold during December was lower than expected, we set a Record Average Sales Price for December and saw the inventory level improve from the December 2017 level.

(Jan. 24) The media used to tout a seasonally adjusted first-time  unemployment level under 300,000 claims.  This week we saw a level of 199,000. Ho-Hum. It was reported here.It was projected here.

(Jan. 25) Next week we will receive the January Jobs Report. The data may be skewed by the Government Shutdown. It may not be skewed by the government shutdown. We know that it will be skewed by the upward revision to the 2018 non-farm payroll data of 43,000. The article "January 2019 Jobs Report Forecast" detail how the non-seasonally adjusted data will contract, the seasonally adjusted data will expand, and that the Private Sector Jobs Streak is not threatened. Projections are made regarding the CES worker data and the CPS jobs data. Sector data is projected. Multiple job worker data is projected. Wage data is projected.

(Jan. 26)Week in Review: Shutdown Shutdown was the week in review article written after the government reopened.

(Jan. 28) This week began where the prior week ended with a look at the potential jobs data for January. This week the article focused on the ADP Private sector payroll data.  "Jan. ADP Report Forecast: Growth, except IT" projected a strong private sector number with all sectors adding seasonally adjusted jobs, with the possibility of a very slight drop in the Information Technology sector.  It was thought that the ADP number could grow by 217,000 to 259,000 private sector jobs.

(Jan. 29) This week we were supposed to receive the fourth quarter advance Gross Domestic Product (GDP.) Even though most of the data for the fourth quarter was in prior to the Government Shutdown, the report was delayed for a week. That did not stop this column from publishing . "Don't be Surprised by the 4th Quarter GDP" explained how the  headline annualized GDP could rise from the 2.3% level seen during 2017Q4, and fall from the 3.4% annualized GDP for 2018Q3, and that this would be okay. It also explained that the same quarter GDP could rise to 3.1%-3.3% based on Personal Consumption expenditures, Gross Private Domestic Investments, and Government Spending.

(Jan. 30) The Wednesday immediately preceding the Monthly Employment Situation Report is the ADP Private Sector Payroll release date. The ADP report plays poker with the Government data. ADP has to show their cards first.  This report befuddles some commentators because it rarely matches the government data. The Non-farm payroll data that is the "headline number" on Fridays includes Government Worker data while the ADP data does not. "January ADP Private Payroll Data Shows Growth" detailed how the annualized ADP growth was slightly lower than 2.00% and slightly lower than the December Rate and still better than January 2018. The month to month growth was slower than December and still within the range of expectations.  There were 213,000 private sector workers added during January

(Jan. 31)  Thursday is almost always "Weekly Unemployment Claims Data Day." Last week we had a seasonally adjusted (SA) first-time unemployment (FTU) claims level of 199,000 claims reported. The seasonal factors used to convert the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data that is recorded to the seasonally adjusted claims data that is reported made it almost impossible for the SA FTU to remain under 200,000 claims. "More Remarkable Unemployment  Claims Data"  detailed how NSA FTU data fell and the SA FTU rose. The data was some of the best seen during the past 52 years.

(Jan. 31) In the "better late than never" category, the November New Home Sales data was released. The November units sold came in within expectations, inventory rose as anticipated, and the average sales price fell, possibly due to a lack of existing home inventory around the $300,000 price range. "November New Home Sale": Comment Worthy " explained how we are still on track for our best new home sales year since 2007.