Jack Dunn - Reclaiming Common Sense

The Weekly Unemployment Claims Report was released for the week ending September 16 for the first-time claims and for the week ending September 9 for Continuing Claims. The authors of the report are still pushing the FACT (False Assertion Considered to be True) that Hurricane Harvey AND Hurricane Irma are impacting the data. Hurricane Irma did not hit the majority of Florida until September 17th. We will not see an impact from Irma until two weeks from now when people have been out of work for one week and collecting benefits.


First Time Unemployment Claims recorded a spike of 13 claims. That is some impact from the Hurricane Harvey. This is not a jump of 13,000 claims. It was a jump of thirteen claims.  The data from last week was revised LOWER from 214,217 to 212,284. This week the advance data was recorded at 212,297. Government math means that this unheard of jump pf thirteen claims was reported as a DROP of 23,000 claims. First-time unemployment claims, in theory, should stabilize before the spike in first-time claims is impacted by Irma. The second week of September is normally the lowest claim date of the year.


The First-time Claims Number could have been reported LOWER. We had fewer non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time unemployment (FTU) claims recorded this year than during 2015. That is "some impact."The seasonal factors change from week to week, month to month, season to season, and year to year.We have had fewer first-time claims - during the 1960s - when there were 84 million fewer potential claimants. If we used the same seasonal factors during the 1960s, early 2000s, or the past five years we could have reported a SA FTU number of 250,000.


The Continuing Claims Data Recorded and Reported an increase in claims - Still near historically low level. The data from last week was revised down from 1,707,094 to 1,700,190. This week that level bumped up from 1.700 million to 1.736,615. The continuing claims level normally bottoms around the final week of September or the first week of October. Will we drop below 1.699 million by the end of the month? We have fewer continuing claims than we had during the third week of September 1974. We have fewer continuing claims than we had during the first week of October 1978. How low can this number go?


The Continuing Claims data is stunningly good - Not Impacted by the hurricanes much at all. These are truly historic levels of claims. This data lags the FTU data by one week, so this data is for the second week of September. How low can this number fall?


Where is the reporting on Disaster Unemployment Assistance Claims? Last week this column published an articlewith links to the DUA website. Earlier this week links on twitter were for an article on DUA availability in Texas for 18 counties. The DUA program is available to 29 counties in Texas.There is also a DUA for people in Florida. We may never see it reported in the weekly report. Maybe we will. Yesterday there was an article published that said that the spike in unemployment claims in Texas was greater than experienced during the "Great Recession."


The weekly unemployment claims report used to garner headlines - now we are lucky if you know that it has been released. If we continue to see a drop in the continuing claims number then we may see a lower U-3 unemployment number during September. We will see what impact is recorded and what is reported.


It's the economy.