Jack Dunn - Reclaiming Common Sense

The Month that a Covfefe was born.


(June 1) It appears that they "only people" who care about the weekly unemployment claims report data are the people who write stories on the weekly unemployment claims data. Some news commentators are seeing the data, the non-seasonally adjusted data, for what it is: Remarkable. They are commenting on it. This column has been commenting on the data for years - and expressed amazement in the low levels of the data for months, if not years. "Continuing Claims Lower than May 29, 1971?" That's good news - The Media wants a Covfefe.

(June 1) ADP, the payroll company, produces a jobs report prior to the official jobs report. This column has not placed much merit on the ADP report because it only releases seasonally adjusted data. How do they "know" the seasonal adjustments to use if the government does not publish their seasonal factors? That said, there was an "anti-covfefe" when ADP produced its report showing stronger than expected job growth.They reported job growth from April to May in eight out of ten private sectors and May to May growth in all ten sectors. Crickets. is this a "sinfefe?"

(June 2) The lead up to the release of the official jobs data at 8:30 AM was filled with cautious optimism. Hard data this, Soft data that. Green shoots. Profits. Boom. The seasonally adjusted data did not comport with the ADP data. Shocker. The article "May Jobs Report Better than May 2016" headline was a reference to the prior column on the revisions to the data. Commissioned salespeople know that you are only as good as your most recent month. If you can't beat last month's data then "at least" beat last year's same month data or last quarter's data, or whatever your metric of choice. We gained fewer non-seasonally adjusted full-time jobs than projected. We lost fewer part-time jobs than projected. Unemployment ticked higher, as was considered. The current employment statistics data recorded better growth than May 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2016. . This was a "Goldilocks Report" - Not a Covfefe - Not a Sinfefe. Move along - we need to focus on the  24 Reasons why Hillary Clinton lost the election.


(June 3)This week was a crazy week for the economic data. We had a solid ADP payroll report. We had a weaker than expected and better than May 2016 Employment Situation Report. We had one of the strongest Weekly Unemployment Claims Reports since May 1971. This comes on the heels of last week's housing data which showed that the new home sales is still in recovery mode and that we are doing better than we have been since 2008 and that there is an existing home inventory shortage that is holding back existing home sales.  What we were discussing: Kathy Griffin and her tasteless posting (the one where she said that she and the photographer might have to "head" to Mexico after its release,) and "Covfefe." As Bart Simpson would say "Don't have a cow, man."


(June 5) We are seeing full-time jobs created and unemployed workers decline.We were seeing the exact opposite during the first four months f President Obama's first term in office while we e=were shedding full-time jobs and seeing the unemployment levels spike."Five Presidents at  Month Four: Full-time Replacements" compares the job creation and participation rates of Presidents Reagan, Clinton, "Bush 43," and Obama to President Trump. It also digs into the "U-7 Unemployment Rate" which will be detailed more during the remainder of the week.

(June 6) The job situation for men has been weaker than is being reported elsewhere. The drop in the national participation rate has been shared unequally between men and women. Women started with a lower participation rate and saw their rate drop less than the male participation rate. Men lost he brunt of the jobs during the recession. Women recovered quicker from the recession and have added more jobs than men have added. "Men Have Recovered from the Recession, Again" goes into detail on the full-time and part-time job creation that has, or hasn't, occurred since the Summer of 2007 and how the effective unemployment rate (U-7) for men is 10.83%. This is significantly different from the official non-seasonally adjusted U-3 Unemployment rate of 4.04%.

(June 7) All of the reports that are released by the government on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis are connected. All of the reports that are released have data behind them. The jobs report also includes data at the sector level - both private and government. Some sectors have recovered to July 2007 levels while other have not. The sectors that have not recovered tend to be male dominated sectors: Mining and Logging, Construction, Manufacturing, and Information Technology.  We have been adding jobs across ten of the eleven sectors the past two months. The article "May Sector Data: Ten Sectors  Up Over April" details these changes and also points out how the downturn in manufacturing has been "offset" by the rise in Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, Education and Heath Services, and Leisure and Hospitality sector jobs.

(June 8) A story that is frequently overlooked is the growth of the multiple job working sector of the workforce. We have seen elevated levels of part-time job creation for years. Part-time workers replaced full-time workers and single job working individuals had to find a second job. President Obama said that "Julia"  wanted a flexible schedule, and the ability to work part-time jobs. Now she works two or three jobs. The multiple jobs workers data did not get as much attention as it could have this month because we didn't set a record level for the number of people working two part-time jobs for the month of May - that was last year. We didn't set a record for the month of may for people working two jobs - even though this was the highest May level since 2009. "May Multiple Job Workers Up From May 2016" explains how this has changed out economy and how it is impacting our unemployment numbers.

(June 8) They still produce weekly unemployment claims reports. You wouldn't know it by watching the news or reading the paper. You have to search far and wide for 15 seconds on the topic on television or two in-column, below the fold paragraphs in the business section of your paper.We have the lowest non-seasonally adjusted continuing claims level of unemployment for the final week of May/first week of June since 1971."Historic May Continuing Claims Data, Again" details the unsung story and also examines seriously low levels of first-time claims. How low will they go this Summer? How much lower can they go this Fall?

(June 9) Another way to examine the data is to break down the jobs data by age group. There have been anecdotal stories of people who were going to retire during 2008 who had to delay their plans and stories of people "un-retiring."What does the data say? The data says that there are "gaps" in our employment levels, by age group. The data says that our workforce is aging. The data says that older workers are participating at a higher rate than prior to the recession. This month, the "Red, Gray, and Blue" series finds that those over the age of 60 have a negative U-7 unemployment rate. "Over 60 Participating More than May 2007" finds that those under the age of 60 are participating less than they were during the Summer of 2007, and that while some of this is due to "age shift," moving from one 5-year age group to the next, some of this is due to the number of older people working longer than prior to the recession. 


(June 10)  All of the data is connected. Employment is connected to unemployment. Retail sales are connected to employment and retail employment grows when retail sales grow. Retail sales grow when housing sales increase. Housing sales are able to increase when people obtain permanent full-time jobs. Jobs in construction pick up when jobs in other sectors increase. Tax revenues increase when jobs improve. Companies invest money in people and machinery when the economy improves. We need people to run machines to make machines. We need people to service existing products. We need people working to import and export goods and raw materials . When people eel more confident regarding the economy they sell their existing homes and buy another, larger or newer, home. When the economy is good they buy a newer automobile. Automobile and home sales are the "drivers" of our economy. The more people are employed, the more they buy "stuff." they more people buy stuff the more people are employed. The week in review summarizes all of this.


(June 15) One of the reports released this week, prior to hearing about the assassination attempts on members of Congress, was the May Retail (MARTS) report. This column has written numerous articles regarding the Retail Report - some sectors have recovered from the recession - some sectors have not recovered. There are a number of ways to examine the data - the non-seasonally adjusted data. One can look at how the data improves from month to month or from the same month twelve months ago. You can look at "rolling year" data - how much has been sold during the past 12 months. You can also examine the data in the cumulative - how much money did we spend across all sectors. "Best May Retail Report EVER" examined the non-seasonally adjusted data and found that we are on-track for our best Retail year ever. Retail Ice Age? No. Weakness at the malls, yes.

(June 15) Some of the data that is released during the course of any given week or month needs extra attention. The Jobs Report is more than just one number or two ("Jobs Created" and Unemployment.) The CPI (Consumer Price Index Report) is more than just the overall rate of inflation. Every item in the CPI shopping basket has its own seasonal factor. Every item has its own rate of inflation.  What is an "appropriate rate of inflation?"We had inflation "going off the chart" during January and February of this year. Inflation is the Bogeyman of the Federal Reserve. Someone is still "messing" with the Medical Cost numbers and Shelter is still surging.The article "Shelter Inflation and Reweighting CPI Reality " Goes into detail.This report was also released at 8:30 AM on the day of the assassination attempt.

(June 15) Thursday we saw the release of the Weekly Unemployment Claims data and Weekly Unemployment Claims report. We are at an unadjusted First Time Unemployment Claims Level for the first week of June lower than anything we have seen since June of 2000. We have roughly the same level of first time claims as we had during the final week of May....1972.... when we had 86 million fewer potential claimants.....let hat sink in....or read the article "Remarkable Weekly Unemployment Claims Data." A similar story is found in the continuing claims data.

(June 16) Real estate is one of the engines that propels the high flying US economic "airplane." Retail sales is another engine. Jobs are the fuel that keep the engines running.  Home sales spawn retail sales.There are two main segments to the real estate industry: Residential New Home Sales and Residential Existing Home Sales. The new home sales data is based upon new home construction data - If you build it then they can buy it. The new construction data has many components - the starts data, the under construction data, and the completions data are just three components. New Home starts were reported higher than May 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The same can be said for the number of units under construction and the number of new homes completed. Remember that the peak number of units sold, pre-recession, peaked during 2005 with new home sales prices peaking during 2006. The article "May New Construction Data: Recovery Continues" details how new construction is rebounding. It also clearly points out that there is a longer way to go before we return to the pre-recession levels of construction, and sales, and how we may not want that high a level of units available. The question that also needs to be answered is will excess new construction inventory relieve some pressure from the exiting home market where we are seeing a shortage of homes for sale?


(June 17) Another Week, another week in review.


(June 22) The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report has started to garner attention during recent months because there is an elevated level of Job Openings. That is less than half the data. This column used to write numerous articles on the "Hire and Fire" data. There is data available for hires, quits, and separations, also known as labor turnover (LT.) "JOLTing Health and Education Jobs Data" details how this past April we had considerable job openings and significant quits in the Health and Education Sector.

(June 22) BREAKING NEWS: They still publish the unemployment claims report. We know return to regular programming. First-time Unemployment claims recorded a drop and reported an increase in numbers. "First-time Unemployment Claims: Down is Up" details how we still have historically low levels of first-time claims and continuing claims. It also reiterated the problem of comparing this data with the data from the 1970s: There are tens of millions more people eligible for benefits than there were during the 1970s. This is like comparing Jackfruit to a peach.

(June 23) The "most important" report of the month is the "Jobs Report." Jobs beget sales. We are a consumption based economy. One of the largest purchases a person will make during his or her life is the purchase of a home. The new home market spurs other sales, including furniture and home furnishings, electronics and appliances, and home and garden sales.  The "Great Recession" was a Jobs Recession, a Retail Recession,  and a Housing Recession rolled into a Gross Domestic Product Recession.  "May Existing Home Sales Rocking, Rolling" details how the average sales price for May set a record high, the number of units sold approached the number of units sold  during May 2003. Remember the peak units sold happened during 2005. It also details how we have an existing home inventory shortage.

(June 23)  This column has written numerous articles how the number of new homes sold, per month and year, is stuck in the 1980's and 1990s. The article "May New Home Sales; Sales Price Rockets" details how the Average Sales Price for New construction exceeded $400,000 this month." It also details how we also have an inventory shortage in the new construction market. 


(June 24) The business of business news is to cover issues regarding the economy. The obsession of all media sources since the Summer of 2010 has been politics. The media loved covering the debt an deficits when they were hitting a trillion dollars a year. The media loved to cover the unemployment rate while it was over 8% and the weekly unemployment claims data when the first-time unemployment claims were over 300,000. They could explain why the economy was flagging while things were being reported as poor. They are having a harder time explaining the disparity between reality - the unseasonally adjusted world in which their viewers and readers live, and the Fantasyland of Govertment Data - the seasonally adjusted world. This column, and all week in review articles,  is based on reality.


(June 26) The first column of the week was "Which Way is the GDP Heading?" This column identified the possibility for an upward revision to the preliminary GDP numbers released last month. It focused on recent upward revisions to the MARTS retail numbers and the conversion of PT jobs to FT Jobs and the addition of FT Jobs. It also projected the first "print" of second quarter GDP which is going to ride the elevator higher.

(June 28) The Affordable Care Act was a de facto expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid was not designed to absorb 12 million new enrollees during the course of one year. It also was not designed to be the healthcare plan of choice for the prison population and recent releases. "ACA Medicaid Expansion Holding Us Prisoner" details how outlays have grown faster  the past two years than the growth in enrollment and how the enrollment spiked after its release. By the way, we are on-track to spend 1.5 trillion dollars on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

(June 29) This column and its sister site "Reclaiming Common Sense" has spent years discussing the weekly unemployment claims reports. "Unemployment Claims, June 1973 Levels, Plural" details how this is near the all-time lows for this week of the year for both the First-time Unemployment Claims level and the Continuing Claims level. This is being done with nearly triple the level of covered insured that were present during the 1960s and 1970s.  We have had an elevated level of part-time workers and an elevated level of people working multiple jobs that is depressing the first-time claims level.

(June 29) The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of economic health. It is rearward looking. It tells us where we have been. It is released three times for the same quarter. The advance value gets the most headlines. The preliminary number receives some attention. The final revision normally receives a collective yawn. "First Quarter GDP Revised Higher" could have been titles "First Quarter GDP Revised Higher, Again." The GDP is where it is due to contributions of Personal Consumption Expenditures and Private Domestic Investment. Government spending is dragging down the GDP.

(June 30) The "most anticipated" data and report during the month is the Employment Situation Report. The "Jobs Report" gives us insights to full-time and part-time job creation or losses. It also gives us insight into worker levels and the changes in multiple job workers. Summer is Hiring Season - it is also the time of year when surveyed individuals who are looking for work who cannot find work will be counted as unemployed, whether or not they receive unemployment benefits. This column, and its sister site, have spent years digging into the jobs report data and forecasting the potential numbers. The data recorded is the non-seasonally adjusted data. The numbers that are reported are the seasonally adjusted data. Expect us to record sizable jumps in both the worker numbers and the jobs numbers. Also expect a jump in unemployment. These combined jumps should mean that the recorded number of participants will spike. The number of participants that will be reported as being added to the economy may surge, stay the same, or drop due to seasonal factors. Expect the private sector to add close to 300,000 seasonally adjusted workers - contingent upon the seasonal factors used. "Jumping June Jobs Report Potential" goes into detail.







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