Reclaiming Common Sense

The weekly unemployment report is actively being ignored by the media. First-time unemployment claims have been below 300,000 seasonally adjusted claims for "so long" that it isn't news. Readers of this column that this is a FACT (False Assertion Considered to be True.) The recent changes to the seasonal factors and the skewing of the season factors mean that it did not start when the government says it did, it ended this past Thanksgiving, and it is at or near historic lows, especially when factoring in the changes in the covered insured. A similar situation exists for the continuing claims number.

The Non-Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims Level Remains below 200,000. You are not hearing this detail because the media reports the seasonally adjusted data. The first-time (FTU) number should continue to decline, in general, through the final week of September or the first week of October.

Seasonally Adjusted FTU Claims Reported at 233,000 - Could have been LOWER. The authors of the report have, over the years, compared seasonally adjusted data from different seasons with different seasonal factors and created FACTs.This week we have a level not seen during this time of the year since 1969. We had 80 million more people eligible this week than during August of 1969. This is like comparing a Hummer to a 1973 Pinto.If we used the seasonal factors that they used during the 1960s then we could have reported SA FTU claims of 227,000 this week.

The Continuing Claims Level Dropped, again. If you look at this trend, it too will keep dropping through the end of September and the first week of October. We are dropping toward real levels that we have not recorded since the Fall of 2000, and we still have a month and a half to go. Once again, this is will more eligible workers for unemployment insurance.

What Difference Does It Make? If we used the seasonal factors from the 1960 we would have seen the continuing claims data reported higher. The point here is that the non-seasonally adjusted data is what workers are experiencing. It also make a difference because the continuing claims level is lower now than it was during the middle of July. This should mean that we should have an official U-3 unemployment level that drops and an official unemployment rate that drops.

The Media is playing Economic Euchre while the President is Playing Five Card Stud. I played Euchere one Summer during the late 1980s. It is a card game played with Face Cards, Aces and Nines. Basically,  it is Bridge with half a deck. The media is playing with half a deck. They are not playing the same game that President Trump is playing. Ignore the unadjusted data at your own risk.

It's the economy.