Reclaiming Common Sense

(March 1) Thursday is still unemployment claims data day. The data is seasonally adjusted because some weeks and some months had traditionally high levels of unemployment and some months have the traditionally lowest unemployment claims for the month. January is peak unemployment and October is "valley" unemployment. This week the lowest ever non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims data was recorded for the fourth week of February. It wasn't quite reported that way, due to seasonal factors. What happens when you have "September Level of First-time unemployment claims data during February?"

(March 1) There was "market turmoil" because President Trump mentioned the "T-Word." Tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, reciprocal tariffs, are proposed by President Trump. Was this a "Black Swan" event, an event that comes out of the blue and disrupts the market? The posting, it can barely be called an article, "Black Swan Season or W.H.O.P.P.E.R 2.0" details how there were multiple "Black Swan" events that happened on Thursday and how instead of playing chess, as they did in the movie "War Games," President Trump is playing four-dimensional chess. There wasn't just one item to cause jitters, there were six things that happened that day that could have spooked the market, plus the #BoycottNRA news that was an issue last week Friday and this eek Monday.

(March 2) The first week of April we will receive the February Jobs Report. Part of the purpose of this column is to demystify the economic data that is released every week and every month of the year. Part of the purpose of this column is to manage expectations for the upcoming reports, whether or not it is the unemployment claims data, the monthly housing data, or the monthly jobs report data. The article "February Jobs Forecast: More Strength" details how we should record a huge spike in full-time jobs and part-time jobs and a sizable drop in unemployed workers. We should also record a surge in non-seasonally adjusted workers. Whether or not that will be what is reported, seasonally adjusted, is actually a big question mark. The seasonal factors that are used to convert the non-seasonally adjusted  (NSA) Current Employment Statistics (CES) data that is recorded to the seasonally adjusted (SA) CES data that is reported change from month t month and year to year. We could add over 1 million NSA Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs and barely see the number of SA CES workers move higher. Watch the seasonal factors. Watch the revisions to the prior data.

(March 3)Week in Review. In addition to the three columns from March 1 and March 2, there were articles written regarding weekly unemployment claims, GDP,  New Home Sales, and analysis of Florida Employment post-hurricane season.

(March 4) The week started with the "Top Ten Articles of February." What did readers of this column find newsworthy? January New Home Sales, a couple of articles regarding the January Jobs Report, an unemployment claims report, some week in review articles, and an article from 2014 regarding how we are mortgaging our future with our Federal debt, and an article from 2016 regarding the "Gang of 22." anti-Trump essayists. 

(March 5) This was jobs week. The first insight to the economy was the ADP Payroll report that was released on Wednesday. Tuesday this column produced the article " February ADP Should be Fabulous." The annual growth rate has been very strong since February. All of the data was pointing for more of the same.

(March 6) This column published a Sector forecast article this month, examining changes month to month and February to February for the CES (Current Employment Statistics) super sector data.  "Which Sectors Will Grow Most This February" projected across the board growth, non-seasonally adjusted, with the exception of Trade, Transportation, and Utility. The data indicated that there could be some sectors with seasonally adjusted declines month to month.

(March 7)  All the preparation for the ADP report was worthwhile. The main story here, one that was not reported elsewhere, was the revision to all of the publicly available ADP Seasonally adjusted data from 2002 through January 2018. The ADP number was strong. The "problem" was that they revised the February 2017 number higher which meant the same month data "fell." Another "problem" is that the January 2018 payroll number was revised higher so that the month to month data "fell." There were significant revisions to the data that turned real payroll increases last year to data indicating a slowing economy. How will this month's massive February Employment situation data impact the ADP data when it is revised next month? Time will tell.

(March 8) Thursday we received a very strong Weekly Unemployment Claims report. The streak of declining claims stop after seeing the data set new record lows for the current week non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims  data for the current week. There were record lows recorded for the first, second, third, and fourth week of February.  "Remarkable First-time Claims Data" explains how the continuing claims level continued to decline and how the first-time claims data was still better than the first week of March data for 1970 through 2017. It also explains that this is even better than the data from 1967-1970 when you consider that there are 94 million more "covered insured" than during those years.

(March 9) Jobs Friday is a "big day." There were some grumpy people who were projecting a meager jobs report number down in the 112,000 range and some "overly optimistic" projections of over 300,000 seasonally adjusted non-farm payroll workers being added to the economy. This column was being cautious with a forecast number around 265,000 workers. The seasonal factor was expected to decline. It was thought that we could see growth as high as was was experienced during February 1999. Reality was even better. The data for January was revised up 50,000 seasonally adjusted private sector workers, effectively "stealing" 50,000 workers from February. The Current Population (CPS) jobs data blew away the levels recorded during February 2016 and February 2017. We saw the "Best February Jobs Report Since 1980." The business news was promoting a strong jobs report. They would never stop talking about it if they realized how good the data really was.

(March 10) Week in Review

(March 12)  The February Jobs Report was well received. The President is not receiving any credit for the solid jobs data unless the President receiving credit for it is former President Obama. The article "Five Presidents at 13 Months" details how President Trump is one of two Presidents to increase workforce participation during his first thirteen months in office." He has added more full-time jobs than three of his predecessors combined.

(March 12) 
Not all jobs are equal. Some jobs pay more than other jobs. The jobs report contains sector data. Nearly all sectors added workers last month. "Feb. Sectors: Manufacturing, Mining, and Construction Coming Back" examines the sector data.

(March 13) 
Men saw the worst of the recession with the loss of over 10 million full-time jobs at the depth of the recession. Men are participating at a lower rate now than July 2007. Women have added more full-time jobs than men have added since that time. Men have almost recovered all of their lost full-time  jobs. "The Male Full-time Job Shortage Continues."

(March 13) 
There has been considerable hyperventilating regarding the Consumer Price Index report for February, We have seen months of bifurcated inflation with service inflation and commodity deflation. That continued during February. "People" were concerned that the inflation number came in "higher than expected" by the "experts." "Feb. CPI: Down from Feb. 2017" breaks down the data.

(March 13) 
This column writes numerous articles every month. Some articles are forecast articles while other articles focus on the reports and the data within the reports. This is a form of managed expectations. How do we know if we are winning if we do not understand what is a winning score? "How Strong with the February Retail Report Be" projected strong February over February growth. It was thought that there would be a drop  month to month in the Hobby and Sporting Goods Sector, and strong gains in Motor Vehicle and Parts Sales, Clothing Sales, and Miscellaneous Retail Sales.

(March 14) 
We are a consumption based economy. We have been recording seriously strong retail sales data during December of 2017, January of 2018, and now February of 2018. This is not what is being reported.We set Record Sales Levels for the month of February for Ten Sectors. It is also important to note that the January Retail Sales number were revised up by 1 billion dollars (cue Mike Myers.) Oh, by the way, the annual growth is setting us up for our first $6 trillion retail sales year ever. It is a little early to pop the cork. Two months does not make a trend.

(March 15) 
Thursday we received banner weekly unemployment claims data.The non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims data dropped to a level not seen for the second week of March since March 8, 1969. The continuing Claims level for the first week of March dropped below where we were during the first week of March 1972. The article "Unloved Unemployment Claims Data, Again" provides the data behind the headline.

(March 15)
Thursday afforded the opportunity to examine the Jobs Report data in a little more detail. A story that is not covered elsewhere is the rise in the number of Multiple Job Workers. The data recorded "Multiple Job Holder Records, Plural" for the month of February.

(March 16)
This column writes many forecast articles. One forecast article is the new construction and new home sales forecast article. The February  New construction forecast articlewas published Friday morning prior to the release of the February data. It was projected that we would see a rise in single family starts from last February. It was projected that the units under construction would rise from last month and last February's levels. It was also projected that new home completions would exceed 80,000 units. Two out of this is pretty good.

(March 16)
The New Construction report was stronger than was reported in the mainstream media. Starts were up over last February and higher than February 2008 through February 2017, for the month of February. The Same can be said for units under construction and units completed.  There was a slight disappointment regarding the lack of positive change in the level of units under construction  from January to February this year. The New Construction Sector is Building Momentum. You would not know that from the headlines elsewhere.

(March 17) The luck of the Irish - a Saint Patrick's Day Week in Review.

(March 19) This week began with a question: "When did the Great Recession Really End?"  The Great Recession was a combination of a Housing Recession, a Jobs Recession, and A Retail Recession." These three recessions were measured by a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Recession. (There was even a Government Revenue recession - That is a different Story.)

(March 19)  This week the two main reports that were released were the New Home Sales Report and the Existing Home Sales Report. The New Construction report was released a week ago. The first real estate report released this week was the Existing Home Sales Report. This column produces articles in advance of the real estate reports. "February Existing Home Sales Forecast: Up" projected a rise in units sold and, a rise in the average sales price.The biggest question was "Will the inventory levels rebound? Will we be at a record low for the month of February?"

(March 21)  Wednesday we received the Existing Home Sales (EHS) Report. "Record Feb. Existing Home Sales Price" detailed how we sold more homes this February than any February since, and including, February 2008. The best data in eleven years? Crickets.

(March 22) Thursday we received another fantastic,  remarkable weekly unemployment claims report. This was best than any report for this week of the year since 1971. The "Weekly Unemployment Claims Data were WEAKLY reported."

(March 22) Thursday the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 700 points. The Stock Market is still up significantly under President Trump. "DJIA March 22nd: One Graph" explains in one paragraph explains how we are still growing at 9 points a day and could be at over 27,000 a year from now.

(March 23) A week ago Friday this column published a new construction forecast article. last week Friday we received the Fberuary New Construction article that detailed improvement, year over year, for new home starts, new homes under construction, and seriously strong new home completion data. This Friday we received the February New Home Sales data. We saw the same level of new home sales this February as we had last February. We saw the rolling year sales (March 2017 through February 2018) improve by 7.5%. We saw Inventory improve and exceed 300,000 units for the first time since 2009. We saw inventory improve by over 16% during the past twelve months. This is being actively ignored elsewhere.

(March 24) Week in Review  Building Momentum says it all.

(March 28) The so called "experts" were expecting the fourth quarter gross domestic product numbers to be revised down. They were revised higher than originally reported in the advance number and higher than the preliminary number. "Fourth Quarter GDP: Up and Up" digs into the data and finds that all four components of GDP, Personal Consumption Expenditures, Gross Private Domestic Investments, Government Spending, and IMport/Exports are all firing on all cylinders.

(March 28) Last week the weekly unemployment claims report served notice that this week's unemployment claims data would be released with revised data from 2013 through 2017. "Watch Revisions to the Unemployment Data" highlighted the times when the under 300,000 seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims streak "almost ended." Readers of this column know that there is an article, or six, on that subject and that the streak is an "Economic Urban Legend."

(March 29) Thursday was Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, and was the day that the weekly unemployment claims data and report were released. The problem with the headline seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims number is that the seasonal factors used to convert the non-seasonally adjusted data to the seasonally adjusted data is that they change week to week, month to month, season to season and year to year. "March 24 First-time Claims Lower than September 29, 1973" details how the unemployment claims data, NSA, should continue to fall through September or October of this year, and how the continuing claims data could have been reported under 1.7 million. A value under 2 million is considered good.

(March 30) This column took a Good Friday break.

(March 31) This column writes forecast articles regarding the jobs report. It has been a tradition to publish the forecast the Friday before the Employment Situation release date. Good Friday took precedent. The article "Will March Jobs Report Be in Like a Lion" was a bit tongue in cheek. March is one of the strongest job hiring months. May  and July are stronger. Unemployment should fall. Participation should surge. This is no small feat as unemployed workers are participants and are a negative influence to the participation rate when there are fewer unemployed workers. January would have been one of the best Januaries ever if it weren't for the massive revisions to the 2015, 2016, and 2017 data. The February data was the best for the month since 1979. How much will the CES (Current Employment Statistics) data grow between February and March? How low will the seasonal factors skew the data? Will the data from February be revised higher, thereby "stealing" workers from March? How many non-seasonally adjusted CPS (Current Population Survey) full-time jobs will be added? Will we also see the addition of part-time jobs? How much should we expect the unemployment level and the unemployment rate to fall? Multiple job workers could set a March record for total multiple job workers, people working a full-time job and a part-time job, and possibly for those working two part-time jobs. Participation should improve, again.

(March 31)March 31 Week in Review: Out Like a Lion