The weekly unemployment claims report was released to very little acclaim. The data indicates that the first-time claims are at a seventeen year low. Some of the FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True) are comparing this week's data to the data from 1973. When seasonal adjusted data is compared with seasonally adjusted data from different seasons and different years false assertions are created. The seasonal factors change from category to category, Fist-time Unemployment (FTU) Claims or Continuing Claims (CC,) as well as week to week, month to month, season to season, and year to year. The people who write this report were proposing that we had over 90 consecutive weeks of seasonally adjusted (SA) FTU claims. This column debunked that claim many times in many articles. The problem is that the data is being skewed low by seasonal jobs and part-time jobs. Seasonal jobs do not receive unemployment benefits and part-time jobs do not receive benefits.
So what happened this week?
The Final Week of February Number Dropped to 213,000 NSA FTU claims. This data was reported at 223,000 claims. This was supposed to be the best level since March 31, 1973. The seasonal factor for March of 1973 was significantly lower than the seasonal factor for this week's data. If the seasonal factors from that week in 1973 was used this week's number would have been reported at 237,000. This is still good - it is just good for the wrong reasons.
Best Four Week Average Since 1973? Not really. The four week average for 1973 was 232,750. This week it was 234,500. If all of the seasonal factors were reversed then the four week average for 1973 could have been reported at 211,000 and the SA FTU four week average for this year would have been reported at 261,000.
Should the SA FTU have been reported at 215,000 or 240,000? The seasonal factors bounce up and down. It could have been reported even lower than it was. What do you trust?
Continuing Claims Dropped to under 2.4 Million. This is another seventeen year low. We also have a nearly 36 year low for participation. Unemployed workers are participants.
Next week we will receive information on employment and unemployment. Employment should improve. What will those authors do with their seasonal factors? Will they skew the data high for President Trump as they did since last Summer for President Obama? We will find out next week. This column with produce a forecast article to keep the authors of that report honest.
It's the economy.
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