Jack Dunn - Reclaiming Common Sense

(Oct. 2) This month started with a look back at the top ten articles of September.  Every now and again an article that is written during the waning days of a month rockets to the most read column of the month. Sometimes a column written months, or years, earlier that is referenced in an article during the current month get a second shot at glory. Both situations happened this month. The week in reviews remain popular. Jobs, Housing, and unemployment still are your main interests.

(Oct. 2) This column produces a Jobs Report Forecast Article on a regular basis. This month's "September Jobs Forecast: Up is Down" September, the official end of Summer, means that people will leave seasonal jobs. This year the data was going to be influenced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The questions were how many full-time jobs would be lost, how many part-time jobs would be added, and how many workers were going to "go home?"

(Oct. 3) The monthly Employment Situation Report, or Jobs Report, is preceded by the release of the ADP Payroll Report. "Potentially Strong September ADP Payroll Report" examined the trends of month to month and year to year changes. It was projected that we would see growth in virtually every sector, month to month, and that contrary to what normally occurs, we should have seen improvement in the manufacturing sector.

(Oct. 4) Wednesday was "Jobs Day - Part 1." The growth in the seasonally adjusted manufacturing data came to fruition. The interesting piece of data was that both the IT and the Trade, Transportation and Utility sectors saw declines in jobs. "Sept. ADP Shows Stronger Goods Producing Jobs" goes into detail. The number was not strong. It was positive.

(Oct. 5) Thursday is, was, and almost always is Unemployment Claims Data Day. This week we received really good data that was ignored because "it didn't make sens."  The article "Historically, Hysterically Low Unemployment Claims Data" details how we had fewer first-time claims than we had for the final week of September 1970. It also detailed how we had fewer continuing claims that we had during the fourth week of September (there were five report dates this month.)

(Oct. 6) The monthly jobs report was stunningly maligned. This was a month where increasing participation, improved mostly by the creation of more part-time jobs, one million more part-time jobs,   while recording declines in the number of unemployed workers was overshadowed by a drop in the seasonally adjusted CES worker data. There was a ton of details that were ignored. The U-6 unemployment rate fell. The U3 unemployment level and unemployment rate fell. More people worked multiple jobs during September than did so during August. "Sept. Jobs Up, Workers Down" tells the story of the two data sets  used to create one report.


(Oct. 7)Week in Review


(Oct. 9) The data jobs data needs to be placed into context. President Obama attempted to compare himself to his predecessors before his time in office was complete. This led to the "Four Presidents at __ Months" series. "Five Presidents at Eight Months: Trumponomics" details how President Trump has added more full-time jobs during his first eight months than Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Bush (43) or Obama. Unemployment is down. Participation is up.

(Oct. 9) One of the reasons why the data "does not make sense" to most observers is because they ignore the multiple jobholder data. "Multiple Job Holders Fall during September" details how multiple job holders have dropped from September 2016 to September 2017. The number of people working two part-time jobs, two full-time jobs, or a full-time job and a part-time job surged from August to September of this year.

(Oct. 10) Some sectors of the economy have not recovered from the recession. Some sectors may not recover, including the Information Technology Super Sector or the Manufacturing Super Sector. "September Government Workers Super Surge (Part 1)" examines the Super Sector data and reports that over one million government workers were added last month.

(Oct. 10) Did we really lose workers last month? The "official" seasonally adjusted private sector "jobs" number is the current employment statistics (CES) data. The non-farm payroll number, a number often reported and often confused with the private sector data, includes government workers. "September Government Workers Super Surge (Part 2)" details how the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities Sector, the Health and Education Sector, and the Leisure and Hospitality Sector have surged since 1981 and how the seasonal factors have been manipulated to reduce those impacts on the worker number(s.)

(Oct. 11) There was a "War on Women" reported during the 2012 election. The real war was a war on the male workforce. Men lost over 10 million full-time jobs at the depth of the recession. Women lost 3.8 million full-time jobs. "Women Winning Recession Recovery War" details how women recovered faster than men, have added more full-time jobs than men, and how men still have more full-time jobs than women and women have more part-time jobs than men.

(Oct. 12) Another unemployment claims report was released this Thursday. The first-time unemployment claims data for the first week of October were lower than what we recorded for the first week of October 1970. The continuing claims data lags the first-time claims data by one week. The continuing claims data for the final (fifth) week of September was recorded lower than the final week of September 1970. We recorded "Phenomenal Weekly Unemployment Claims" data.

(Oct. 13) The first report released this Friday was the Consumer Price Index (CPI) report. Inflation is increasing. The authors of the report dismiss it because they exclude the volatile food and energy segments and the inflation therein. The authors said last month that there was no impact from Hurricane Harvey on inflation. This month they said that there was no impact from Irma on inflation. Must be nice to ignore medical inflation, shelter inflation, and energy inflation.  "No Hurricane Inflation" breaks down the data.


(Oct. 13) The second report that was released on Friday was the Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey (MARTS) data. We are on track for the best Retail sales year EVER. Yes, there was a drop from August to September, non-seasonally adjusted. That is called Summer ending. September of 2017 is up from September 2016 by over 4%. This is a streak that has been on-going since January. Personal Consumption Expenditure are a large portion of the Gross Domestic Product. "Retail Sales Continue 4% Growth Rate" asks whether or not a 3% final annual GDP rate is close at hand.


(Oct. 14)Week in Review


(Oct. 16) This week began where the last week finished, writing about the Monthly Jobs Report, or Employment Situation Report. There are many ways to examine the jobs/worker situation. Some people have blamed the drop in the workforce participation rate on the retiring Baby Boomers. "Our Aging Workforce this September" dispels that Urban Myth, again. The workforce participation rate has fallen for those under the age of 59.

(Oct. 17) There are many important reports released during the course of a week or month. Housing data impacts just about "everyone." If housing costs are too high people tend to rent. If rents are too high then people shift to ownership. There are two "sectors' in housing - new construction and existing homes. It is important to understand what can be expected to understand what is being reported. "September New Construction Forecast Hurricane Dependent" examined the potential changes in the new home starts, new home under construction, new home completion, and new home sales data expectations for September.

(Oct. 18) If you watched the news for the proper 15 minutes of the day on Wednesday you might have heard that the new construction permits were down during September. You might not have heard that the September new construction starts, under construction, and completion data were all the best since 2008. The New Construction Data is rolling higher.

(Oct. 19)
The continuing claims data lags the new construction data by one week. This week we received the first-time unemployment claims data for the second week of October and the continuing claims data for the first week of October.The first time claims data was lower than it was during the second week of October 1970. The continuing claims data was lower than what was recorded during the first week of October 1970. These are "Rodney Dangerfield Unemployment Claims numbers" They do not get any respect.

(Oct. 20) Friday we received the Existing Home Sales data. There are many ways to examine the data. The rolling year data, the combination of the past twelve months of sales, was better than what we have seen since September of 2008, and is better than what we had during September 2002. The Current Year data, the sales from January through September, are comparable to 2002 and better than 2008-2016 through September.  "September Existing Home Sales data on track for 5.5 million units, annually" shows that the Realtors estimate of 5.2 million units sold for 2017 is inaccurate.


(Oct. 21)Week in Review


(Oct. 23)  One of the "most important" pieces of economic data is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) number. A number over 3% for a full year of growth is considered to be a sign of prosperity. We managed to have a few quarters under President Obama where real GDP exceed 3%. We never had a full year of over 3%. The best President Obama could do was 2.9% during 2015 and 2.6% during 2014. "Could Q3 Headline GDP Exceed 4%" details how the annualized GDP could blow through the 3% level for the annualized GDP rate and how it could reach 2.5% to 2.7% for the Real GDP.

(Oct. 24) How have the recent hurricanes, Harvey, Irma, and Maria, impacted the jobs and unemployment data? The authors of the weekly unemployment claims report they have inferred that they have impacted the jobs markets in affected areas negatively. So why do we have weekly claims level lower than what was recorded during the 1970s? "Economic Hurricanes: September" details how these regions are recovering quickly and, for the most part, are doing better than they were during September of 2016. The main exception is Puerto Rico where data collection has been all but impossible.

(Oct. 25) New Home Sales are a strong economic indicator. New home sales generate jobs and retail sales as demand for new homes spur the building of more homes. New Home Construction spurs jobs in the construction industry and in other retail sectors as furniture and furnishings and other retail sectors are called upon to provide goods (and services.)The Great Recession was three recessions rolled into one: A Housing Recession (New and Existing Homes,) a Jobs Recession (As full-time jobs were shed and part-time jobs were created,) and a Retail Recession (as people could not afford to spend money after losing one or more full-time jobs.) "Sept, New Home Sales Exceed Expectations" details how new home sales exceeded 50,000 units and how the target for the end of the year data could be over 615,000 - up from 561,000 units during 2016, and better than we have seen since 2008.

(Oct. 26) Do you remember how the weekly unemployment claims data used to be breaking news at 8:30 AM ET for weeks and years on end? They still publish that weekly report. Do you remember how the administration was touting 60, 70, 80, and 90 consecutive weeks of sub-300,000 seasonally adjusted first-time claims? That streak is ongoing, if you use the claims data from the past year that have been reported in the press. Readers of this column know that this is a FACT (False Assertion Considered to be True.) The streak never got traction. It ended most recently during Thanksgiving week of 2016. "Astonishingly Good Unemployment Claims Data" details how we had fewer first-time claims for the third week of October than were recorded during the third week of October 1970. The same is true for the second week of October continuing claims data.

(Oct. 27) The Gross Domestic Product Number is a lagging economic indicator. It tells us where we have been during the past quarter. A number over 3% is considered healthy. We used to have values  over 5% during the 1980s and 1990s. We failed to break through 3% on an end of year annual basis since 2009.  It is amazing that the mainstream media isn't proclaiming a national disaster as the third quarter advance GDP dropped from 3.1% to 3.0%. "GDP Solid 3.0% for Third Quarter" details how the advance value for the Real GDP grew even as the annualized GDP ticked down slightly. It also details how these numbers, plural, should be revised higher next month when the preliminary third quarter GDP data is released. It may even head higher when the final GDP data is released two months from now.


(Oct. 28) Week in Review


(Oct. 31) The most anticipated monthly report is the Monthly Employment Situation Report or Jobs Report. We normally experience similar hiring patterns during the same month. We see workers increase and jobs increase some months. We see jobs and workers decrease during some months. The forecast article is released so that the data can be objectively compared to what was expected.  "October Jobs Report Forecast: Hiring" projected a worker surge and a job surge, as well as a drop in the unemployment rate, using the non-seasonally adjusted data.  The problem with this month's data is that the seasonal factors used to convert the recorded non-seasonally adjusted data to the reported seasonally adjusted data has changed "randomly" since 2003. The "jobs data," the Current Population Survey data, indicates that we could see a large NSA CPS job surge and report a SA CPS job loss. The NSA Current Employment Statistics (CES) data records the worker changes. In theory, the NSA CES data could rise and it could be converted to a loss.