Reclaiming Common Sense

What a week. The data that was released just over a week ago, the Monthly Employment Situation or Job Report was released. The February data was a "Tale of Two Data Sets with Strong Current Population Survey (CPS) Jobs data and weak Current Employment Situation Statistics (CES) worker data. The March Employment Situation report was just the opposite: Weak CPS data and Strong CES data.  This week some more effort was spent digging into the Jobs Data, the CPI Inflation data, the February JOLTS Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey Data, and the weekly claims data.


(April 7) The week started early with a rare Sunday article. "Five Presidents at 26 Months" Job Mountain" detailed how President Trump has done something that only President Clinton was able to do after 26 months in office: Cut unemployment and grow jobs. President Trump has added more full-time (CPS) jobs than former Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W Bush and Obama..... combined.


(April 8)  The CPS data also has information regarding the level of full-time and part-time jobs that men and women are working. "March Men and Women: Better than 2018, Again" discussed how men and women are climbing the "Jobs Mountain" instead of being under the "Jobs Iceberg." Men are working more total jobs, and more full-time jobs, than they were working last March. Women are almost working an all-time record level of jobs, non-seasonally adjusted. They should set an all-time jobs record within the next few months. It is important to note that women work more part-time jobs than men and men work more full-time jobs than women.


(April 9) Last week we received the March Jobs Report. This week we received the February JOLTS report. We had record March levels of Job Openings, Quits, Separations, Hiring, and Job Openings. The article "February JOLTS Churn and Burn Report" details how the same four sectors had the most Job Openings, the most quits, the most total separations, and the most hires. The article also addresses a "Layoff Report" that was released the same day as the March Jobs Report and examines the February JOLTS "Layoff" data. Hint: It is dangerous to compare two different data sets.


(April 10)  The media has been hyperventilating regarding the recent wage inflation that has been recorded and reported. If you have been paying attention to the media during the past few years there were discussion regarding wages not keeping up with inflation. The narrative since last Summer has been "Well, it's just a little better than inflation," or "Well, you have to differentiate between real wage growth and nominal wage growth." Well, that is a deep subject. "March 2019 CPI: Ballooning Medical Care Services" examines the weighting of the monthly basket of goods and the same month inflation rates from March 2018. Medical Care Services used to take 4.765% of our "budget" during March 2009. according to the CPI report. This March it took 7.000% of our budget.  That is serious inflation.  Fortunately, we are still seeing commodity deflation.


(April 11) It appears that the media is picking up on the situation that we have remarkably low first-time unemployment claims data, remarkably low continuing claims data, and a remarkably  low insured  unemployment rate. The article "April Fool's: Weekly Unemployment Claims Data No Joke" details how we had our first official Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims data under 200,000 since November 1, 1969. We also have now had 2 years of seasonally adjusted continuing claims under 2 million claims. The continuing claims data was from March 31st, the day before April Fool's Day.


(April 12) Next week we will receive the March MARTS Retail Report. There has been some hand-wringing regarding the Retail Sales data since the release of the December Retail Report. We had a record December and a record Retail Sales year during 2018, based on the non-seasonally adjusted data. We had a record January and a record February, based on the non-seasonally adjusted data. It appears that sectors sensitive to the housing market were impacted by the Government Shutdown. It is also possible that we will see a rebound now that the Shutdown is over and the loan approval process is moving forward. "March Retail Forecast: Firing on all Cylinders" details how all sectors are expected to grow, non-seasonally adjusted, month to month and March to March. All sectors are also expected to grow March to March with regard to the seasonally adjusted data. There may be one or two sectors with weak month to month seasonally adjusted data.


We will see the first signs of an economic slowdown in the weekly unemployment claims data. The media is touting more job openings than unemployed workers, using the CPS U-3 unemployment numbers. They might as well compare that number to the number of continuing claims. They might as well compare the layoff data from a private source with the layoff data from the JOLTS data. They might as well compare the indoor temperature of a home with air conditioning in Phoenix, Arizona during August with the indoor temperature of a home in Duluth, Minnesota during February. The real story is in the non-seasonally adjusted data.  This week the unemployment claims data was remarkable. The Inflation data for Medical Care Services and Health Insurance need more attention.


It's the Economy.