Reclaiming Common Sense

(March 1) Next week Wednesday we will receive the  ADP Payroll report for February.  This past month the Current Employment Statistics data underwent major revisions. The CES data was revised during January 2018 which lead to the ADP data being revised last February. Expect more of the same this year. "Feb. ADP Should Be Strong, Growth in All Sectors" projects month to month and February to February growth in all sectors. The month to month data projects a slightly lower number than the February to February data. Read the article for more details.

(March 2) The first week in reviews was "March 2: Week in Review: Strong GDP Growth." The article that week covered the Advance Fourth Quarter GDP, the above ADP Payroll Forecast, the weekly unemployment claims report, and the delayed December New Construction Report data.

(March 5) This week we received the ADP Payroll report and the Government Jobs report. This was "Government data underwent massive revisions last month. ADP revised their data this month. The article "February 2019 Jobs Report Forecast: Big League" examined the Current Population (CPS) Jobs and unemployment data and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) worker data. The big questions were: Were we going to see the same month to month worker growth we saw last February (probably not,) was the CES seasonal factor going to lower the reported "jobs number (probably,) and would we see a spike in jobs like we have the past three years during February (likely yes.) Remember Jobs and Workers are different measurements.

(March 5) The December  New Home Sales data was a mixture of good news and not so good news. We had the most new home sales for a calendar year since 2007. We continued seeing improving new home sales inventory. On the other side, December sales dropped slightly from December 2017 and the average sales price fell from the record setting December last December, December 2017.  "Best New Home Sales Since 2007" explains it.

(March 6) Wednesday we received the ADP Payroll Report and the ADP Data revisions.  People were "disappointed" with the headline private sector payroll number of 183,000 new payroll positions this February. They forgot hat December, and therefore 2018, was revised up 122,000 positions and January was revised up 209,000, or a net 87,000 higher than December.If that 87,000 was applied to February instead of January the people in the news would have reported an increase from 213,000 to 270,000 instead of a drop from 300,000 to 183,000. They revised the data back to 2002 ."February 2019 ADP Report: Remarkable" explains why this was a strong report with many revisions.

(March 7)  Thursday is STILL Unemployment Report Thursday. The weekly claims report recorded the lowest non-seasonally adjusted First-time Claims data for the first week of March since  March 1, 1969 and reported the lowest seasonally adjusted first-time claims data since March 3, 1973.  "Weekly (Strong) Unemployment Claims Data" also found a similar situation with the continuing claims data and an insured unemployment rate of just 1.47%

(March 7)  Normally once the ADP report is released and the original analysis is completed the analysis is "put to bed."  Something didn't seem right. Did you hear that the January ADP was revised up to 300,000 "jobs?" Probably. Did you hear that it was the first 300,000 number since 2006? Probably not. "February 2019 ADP Part 2: Remarkable Revisions" looked at the revisions to the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (TTU,) data and the revisions to the Professional Business Services (PBS) data that roughly mirrored the same changes made with the release of the January Jobs Report from the Government.The TTU and PBS data were revised back to 2002. The other payroll categories were fully revised, too. The net changes were zero between 2002 and 2012. There were significant changes to all data between 2013 and 2018.

(March 8) Friday was "Jobs Friday" The projections elsewhere were 180,000 "jobs" and unemployment dropping to roughly 3.9%.  The problem is that the jobs report was a tale of two data sets. We had weaker than anticipated NSA CES worker growth. The thing is that we added more NSA CES private sector workers than we added during February of 2mmari014, 2015, and 2016. Why was the SA CES data reported lower than February 2014, 2015, and 2016? The Devil is in the seasonal factors and the revisions. The article "Feb. Jobs Report: 1.2 million Jobs or 25,000 Workers" details how the NSA CPS jobs data revealed  that we added 670,000 NSA Full-time Jobs and 532,000 NSA Part-time jobs, better than 2014, 2015, and 2016 and how the SA CPS data had the 2019 data behind 2016, 2015, and ahead of 2014. Sometimes Up is Down in Government Math.

(March 9) The article "March 9 Week in Review: Jobs and Workers" summarized the week's activities and discussed some of the potential articles for the following week.

(March 11) The February Jobs Report was a "Tale of Two Data Sets." We saw the addition of 1.2 million non-seasonally adjusted Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs and the addition of only 25,0000 seasonally adjusted Current Employment Statistics (CES) private sector workers. The article " February Wages and Workers Data: Wow" compared the number of non-seasonally adjusted CES workers and their wages from February 2018 and February 2019. The largest wage growth was in Information, Leisure and Hospitality (LAH,) Financial Services, Professional Business Services (PBS) and Construction.

(March 11)
The former President made a big deal of comparing President Trump's first two years in office with his final two years in office. The problem was that President Trump had not been in office for 24 months as of November 2018. "Five Presidents at 25 Months: Participating" compares former Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W Bush and Obama with the current President, President Trump at the same point in their Presidencies. President Trump has added more full-time jobs at the same point in his Presidency as his predecessors  than his predecessors oversaw combined. President Trump came into office with the lowest participation rate than any of his predecessors. He is catching up with former President Reagan's participation rate.

(March 12) We had a record year for retail sales during 2018. This was ignored. We had a record January for retail sales. This was ignored elsewhere. The article "January Retail: Best January Ever" addressed the data and found that there was a drop in January to January sales in the "Furniture and Furnishing" sector, the "Electronics and Appliance " sector, and the "Miscellaneous Store" sector. This was not anticipated. This may have been related to the Government Shutdown as the loan approval process for home sales appears to have been slowed by the shutdown, slowing sales of homes, slowing the sale of other items.

(March 13) There have been discussions about wage growth, or the lack of wage growth, for years. Now the discussion is are we having enough wage growth to offset inflation? The goal posts have been moved. The article "February Health Insurance Inflation hits 7.7%" examined the data by category and found that we STILL have commodity deflation, shelter inflation, service inflation, and Health Insurance inflation.

(March 14) One of the  economic reports that used to be headline news at the bottom of the hour, the weekly unemployment claims report, is now actively being ignored. "First-time Unemployment Claims Marching Lower" examined the first-time claims data, the continuing claims data, and the insured unemployment rate (IUR) data and found that the data all record  non-seasonally adjusted declines and the FTU and CC data reported seasonally adjusted increases in levels. Down was reported as up.

(March 15) This month we should have received the New Home Construction data, new Home Sales data, and Existing Home Sales data for February Sales. January New Home Sales. The Government Shutdown shutdown the release of some data, including new home construction data and new home sales data.  Last Friday, Friday March 8, the Jobs Report was released. That same day the New Home Construction report for January was released. It was buried. The Article "January New Home Sales Finally Revealed" addressed both the new home sales data and the new home construction data. There were fewer expensive homes sold and more homes in the $200,000-$299,999 price range sold this January than last January. This brought down the average sales price a little.  The New Construction Starts data was the best January since 2007. Under Construction data continued to expand January to January. These reports were remarkable.

(March 15)  The current month data for the Jobs Report is released the week prior to the JOLTS job openings report for the prior month. This month we received the February Jobs Report and the January JOLTS Report. This month we saw significant revisions to the JOLTS data, some of which was detailed in the report, some of which was implied, and some of which was buried in the report notes.  "January JOLTS Data Jump" examined the non-seasonally adjusted data and found that we had a record level of Quits, and Job Openings for the month of January this past January. We had the second most January Hires ever. The sectors with the most job openings also had the most quits, the most total separations, and the most hiring. The article also looked at the regions with the most job openings, hires, quits and separations.

(March 16) The article "March 16 Week in Review" dug into data from January February and March, due to the Government Shutdown.

(March 18) There was some discussion that household net worth fell during the fourth quarter of 2018. You would have thought that this was one of the "Four Horsemen of the Economic Collapse of the Trump Economy."  The problem is that this data was released regarding the fourth quarter of 2018 as we are wrapping up the first quarter of 2019. That Christmas "crash" of the stock markets has been replaced with one of the best first quarters for the stock market ever. Net worth is rising. "What is the story behind Household Net Worth story?" examines the data.

(March 20)
Selling real estate is all about managed expectations. You do not promise the best inventory to buy during December and January. You don't say that you can find a home in a certain price range if there are non available. All real estate is local. Prices vary on states, city, school district, neighborhood, style of home or condominium, location, condition, and the motivation of the buyer and seller.This column normally produces a real estate forecast article every month.   This month the article "February Real Estate Data Could Spike" promoted the idea that the Government Shutdown most likely "shutdown" the loan approval process and therefore the sales process. This article projected the possibilities for new home starts, units under construction, completions and sales as well as potentially strong data for the February Existing Home Sales data.

(March 21) Sometimes up is down and down is up with regard to government data. This week the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time unemployment (FTU)  claims and continuing claims (CC) data both fell. We recorded our first week with he NSA FTU claims data under 200,000 claims for this year. Last year this happened a record 21 times. Both the Seasonally Adjusted (SA) FTU claims data and the SA CC data reported  drops this week.  You might not have heard anything about this. We just passed the four year mark on the SA FTU "streak" and we are approaching the two year anniversary of having the SA CC value under 2 million claims. Ho Hum.  "Unemployment Claims Marching Lower, Again" goes into more details.

(March 21) The February Jobs Report went over like a lead balloon earlier this month. The Current Employment Statistics data reported a gain of a mere 25,000 private sector workers. The same report told of a drop in the seasonally adjusted (SA) CPS unemployment level and an improving SA Workforce Participation Rate. It was a "tale of two data sets." The article "February Men, Women, and Multiple Job Worker Data: Strong" is the fourth installment of the "Tale of Two Data Sets" series. We had a record level of combined full-time (FT) jobs and part-time (PT) jobs for men for the month of February. We had a record February for Women, too. We continue to see men work more full-time jobs than women and women work more part-time jobs than men. We saw men work more dual FT jobs than women and women work more dual PT jobs than men. We continue to see this data ignored elsewhere.

(March 22) The February Existing Home Sales data came in pretty much as projected in the forecast article.  the Article "February Existing Homes: Shutdown Rebound"  details how we set a February Average Sales Price record, how inventory improved February to February, and how the number of units sold came in within expectation. The "annualized" jump in sales caught some pundits off-guard.  The Residential Real Estate "Ice Age" was just a lack of supply. Supply is improving.

(March 23) This week in review "March 23 Week in Review: Ignored Data"  includes the above articles plus some commentary on the Mainstream Media obsession with a potential recession. How much of the economic slowdown is seasonally adjusted non-sense and how much is the media trying to take down the economy and therefore the President.

(March 26)  The week started with the February New Construction data. The non-seasonally adjusted showed weakness in the "starts" data, while showing improvement in units under construction and completions compared to February 2018. Those who covered the data focused on the weakness in starts. "February New Constructions: Completions Up" examined all of the data, not just the "starts" data.

(March 27) The "Tale of Two Data Sets" series regarding the February Jobs Report wrapped up this week with "Record Feb. Jobs for those over the age of 55."  This article was based on the Current Population Survey data which revealed that over 1.2 million non-seasonally adjusted jobs were created during February. This is different from the 20,000 seasonally adjusted workers that were "officially" added to the economy because that number was derived from the Current Employment Statistics. This article continues to discuss how we aren't having a problem with the participation rate because Baby Boomers are retiring. Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age. The record level of jobs occupied by those over the age of 55 prove that many are not retiring. It also discussed the urban legend of record low teen unemployment.

(March 28) Two reports came out at 8:30 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time this Thursday: The Weekly Unemployment Claims Report and the "First Revision/Final Revision of the Fourth Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP.) The unemployment report revealed a second consecutive week with the non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims under 200,000. It also revealed systematic revisions to the non-seasonally adjusted and seasonally adjusted data. "More Remarkable Unemployment Claims Data" addresses the back to back weeks of fewer than 200,000 first-time claims, the approaching two year anniversary of the seasonally adjusted continuing claims data being under 2 million, and the exceptionally low Insured Unemployment Rate (IUR) of 1.41% this week.

(March 28) The second report released on Thursday was the GDP report for the Fourth Quarter.  The annualized GDP was revised down from 2.6% to 2.2%, while the same quarter GDP was only slightly revised lower from 3.1% to 3.0%. The "final" annual rate of GDP growth for the entire year remained at 2.9%. "Fourth Quarter GDP: Stripping Gears" discussed how we skipped a gear, shifting from 1st (the advance GDP) to 3rd (Final GDP) while skipping the 2nd report (preliminary) of GDP. We had our best fourth quarter for retail sales ever, yet personal consumption expenditures only grew 2.5% quarter to quarter and 2.6% from the fourth quarter of last year.

(March 29) The release of the February New Home Sales data on Friday meant that we finally caught up with the real estate data that was delayed due to the Government Shutdown. "February New Home Sales: Delayed not Denied" details how we set a record average sale price for new home sales for the month of February, saw inventory rise by over 13% from February 2018, and how we saw the highest level of February new home sales since February 2007.

(March 30) The fifth week in review of the month "March 30 Week in Review: Real Estate Rebound" called attention to the new home construction data and the new home sales data for February