Reclaiming Common Sense

This week was a fairly normal first week of the month with the release of the weekly first unemployment claims report and the monthly employment situation report. It also meant that there was a month of review to be done with the top ten columns of December and the top ten columns of 2016. The Employment Situation Report released yesterday was the second to last jobs report for President Obama. The data for the month of January is collected through the 12th of January.

Here is what you missed if you have not been following this column.

(Jan 1) Happy New Year. The week started with the top ten columns of December.  The top ten columns of December focused on the Employment Situation Data, Housing data, and the unemployment reports.  The top column was one that revealed that men were working 1.1 million fewer full-time jobs than they were working during July 2007.The second column was the one that compared the four most recent two term Presidents at 94 months in office. There were three columns that focused on the distorted weekly unemployment claims numbers, all of which recounted how the consecutive week streak of seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims never really started until 2016 and ended during November of 2016.Throw in a review of the November jobs report as well as columns on the existing and new home data.

(Jan 1) The second column of the week and the year was the Top Ten Columns of 2016 Column.The columns that received the most page views this year were primarily released during January and February of 2016. The January and July Report articles were two of the top ten. A column detailed the "Gang of 22" column against President Elect Donald Trump was the most read column. There were also considerable interest in the columns that focused on the State of the Union. The Top ten column also includes links to all of the columns written during 2016 by month.

(Jan 2) Last week this column produced a jobs report forecast column. The question was raised as to what impact the elevated levels of people working two jobs would have on the jobs report. Monday the column "Potential December Surge in Multiple Job Workers" reported that we saw month to month increases and December to December increases in multiple job holders last December and that we could see a similar annual increase in multiple job workers if we just maintained the levels we had during November.

(Jan 5) Thursday we saw the release of the Weekly Unemployment Claims Report. Did we have 235,000 seasonally adjusted (SA) First-time Unemployment (FTU) claims or 262,000 SA FTU claims? It depends if you use this year's seasonal factor or last year's. Others are reporting that this is the lowest SA FTU claims in a generation - the reality is that we had 348,039 non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) FTU claims last week and that this is the fifth consecutive week with over 300,000 NSA FTU claims.

(Jan 6) Friday was Jobs Report Day. Some people were expecting over 170,000 jobs to be created. The problem is that the official number is the SA Current Employment Statistics (CES) Private Sector worker number, not the Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs number.We saw real, NSA CES worker contraction and real, NSA CPS job contraction during December. The media was promoting the idea that we saw a "jobs number" of roughly 154,000 Non-farm jobs created - different from the private sector number that the White House likes to quote and the number referenced in this column. If we used the same seasonal factor used for the December 2015 Jobs Data this year then the private sector "jobs" number would have been reported at 34,000 Jobs. The article "Deceptive December Jobs Report" details how the unemployment rate increased, the participation rate decreased, and raised the possibility, again, that we are at the beginning of a Jobs Recession. We added fewer NSA CES "jobs" during 2016 than we did during 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, or 2015.

There have been a number of people who have expressed concern over fake news on the Internet. What would happen if people suddenly realized that the majority of the fake news is coming from Washington D.C.? The manipulation of the data is the economic equivalent of making a path through a forest on a treasure hunt and realizing that you are in the wrong forest. Next week this column will publish the article "Four Presidents at 95 Months" as well as columns on the job and unemployment situation for men and women, the employment situation by Job Sector, the employment situation by age group, and the weekly unemployment claims report data.

Thank you for a great week and a great year. Three years down and more to go.

It's the Economy.