Reclaiming Common Sense

First-time unemployment (FTU) claims normally peak during the first week of the year. Continuing unemployment (CC) claims normally peak either during the first week of January or the second week of January. We have had nine consecutive years of "dropping peaks" for the FTU values. We have also seen a nine year decline in the peak continuing claims number. The value that is reported in the mainstream media is the seasonally adjusted (SA) FTU value. The problem here is that the seasonal factors used t convert the NSA FTU value to the SA FTU value change from week to week, month to month, season to season, and year to year. Comparing seasonally adjusted data can create FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True. One of the major FACTs was and is the SA FTU Claims streak. Something that must be remember when comparing data from different year, especially different decades, is that the number of "covered insured" is significantly higher than it was during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and even the 2000s. Whereas the SA FTU number used to be "headline news at the bottom of the hour" most Thursdays from 2007 through 2015, it now appears to be actively ignored. Will it take a SA FTU under 200,000 to once again grab headlines?

Lowest Non-Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims number for the Third week of January. It was recorded at 262,301 claims. This is a significant drop from last week's 354,000 NSA FTU level.  This is the lowest NSA FTU claims data this century. This level is less than half of where we were during January 1988. We had nearly 1 million NSA FTU claims the third week of 1975. We have not seen unemployment claims this low for this week of January EVER. Fifty one years.

The Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims number was Reported at 233,000. This column does not labor to find the lowest SA FTU value because the seasonal factors change so much. This is the lowest since 2000. It was reported lower than it was reported during the 1970s, using the accompanying table. If the number dropped below 300,000 it was considered good. Under 250,000 SA FTU claims has been ignored. Do we have to drop under 200,000 to garner headlines? Will we hit an all-time non-seasonally adjusted low later this Summer? Mid-September? Time will tell.

The Non-Seasonally Adjusted Continuing Claims Data was recorded at 2.283 Million - The Lowest This Century. First-time claims data feeds into the continuing claims data. The CC data lags the FTU data by one week. This level of continuing claims was lower than what we had during the same week of January during 1971 - when there were over 87 million fewer covered insured. We have over 140 million covered insured now. We had 53 million covered insured during January 1971. This is shout from the rooftops significant. This claims level is up from Mid-December so the number of U-3 unemployed workers should pop higher for the January Jobs Report. This should bump up the participation rate.

Was the Seasonally Adjusted Continuing Claims data Reported Too High? If the data is reported at all the claims data will be reported at 1.937 million claims. The SA CC value under 2 million should be garnering headlines. This is down from the 1.980 million seasonally adjusted CC value from mid-December. How low can the NSA CC value fall? last year's lowest value was 1.565 million NSA CC. This was lower than the same week of October 1999. Could we see a value under the 1988 low of 1.542 million claims that was recorded during the first week of November 1988? Could it drop by as much as 100,000, the difference between the first week of January 2017 peak and the first week of January 2018 peak? Time will tell.

This data is totally ignored. The data going back to 1967 is no longer available on the unemployment website. The weekly reports are no longer available beyond the current week's report. There used to be an index of the reports. The data is important. If you do not have the data you do not know if the authors of the reports are spinning good FACTs or bad FACTs. FACTs are FACTs. We need the true data.

We had the highest ever level of continuing claims during March of 2009. We may be heading to the lowest level seen during the past thirty years within the next nine months. How low the continuing claims value falls depends on how low the first-time claims data falls. This report gives us a pulse on the economy. We get these reports weekly. The reports are covered elsewhere weakly.

It's the economy.