Reclaiming Common Sense

January marked the beginning of a new year and a new Presidency. Out with the old, in with the new. January also meant the start of a new month and a new year. This means that this column had to review the prior month and the prior year simultaneously .

(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 theTop 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.

(Jan 9)  The week started with a comparison of the four more recent two term Presidents at the 95 month mark during their Presidencies. The data for the jobs report is collected by the 12th of the month, so President Obama has one more jobs report to add to his record. Readers of this column understand that the participation rate has an impact on the unemployment rate, and the other way around. Unemployed workers are participants. The Deceptive December Jobs Report revealed Non-Seasonally Adjusted (NSA) Full-time job loss,NSA Part-time Jobs Loss, an increase in the number of unemployed workers, and a decrease in the NSA CES Private Sector worker number.We saw a drop in participation. If the unemployment rate and participation rate at the 95 month mark for President Obama is compared with Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Bush it is found that we are missing 8.3 million to 11.6 million participants and that the effective unemployment rate is between 9.75% and 12.12%.

(Jan 7) 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. The week in review summarizes the above columns.

(Jan 10) There are many untold stories through this recovery. One such story is the elevated levels of people working two jobs. We have seen all-time record highs of people working two part-time jobs.We have also seen a considerable number of people working a part-time and full-time job or two full-time jobs. The story behind the story here is that we saw people lose one of their multiple jobs. This means that they are still employed, just lesser employed. There is no "lesser employed" insurance."December Decline in Multiple Jobholders" goes into detail.

(Jan 11) A second untold story is that there are five sectors that have fewer jobs now than they had during December of 2008. It has to be remembered that the peak pre-recession employment month was July 2007. It is eight years after the recession began to pick up steam and we have five sectors with fewer jobs than they had eight years ago. Eight. Years. We also saw declines in eight sectors from November 2016 to December 2016.

(Jan 11) There was a "war of women" rallying call during the 2012 election. What was ignored during that time was that men had lost more jobs than women during the Great Recession. The column "More Men Working Part-time, Unemployed than July 2007" details how women have recovered faster and better than men. It details how men are working 2.2 million more part-time jobs and 1.4 million fewer full-time jobs than they were during July 2007.

(Jan 12)  There is one report that "everybody" anticipated during the Great Recession. It was released every week. It is still released. It barely receives 15 seconds of fame a week. It is the weekly unemployment claims report. The authors of this report have created FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True) for years. They compare seasonally adjusted claims data from one season with seasonally adjusted data from another season. The problem is that we have different seasonal factors every week, month, season and year.  One of the most distorted, contorted FACTs is that we have had over 90 consecutive weeks with fewer than 300,000 SA First-time Unemployment Claims. It is ironic that that streak ended, again, six weeks ago when we eclipsed 300,000 NSA First-time Unemployment Claims. It is ironic because we have had 6 consecutive weeks of NSA FTU Claims numbers over 300,000. Both NSA FTU claims and the continuing Claims number have been rising for weeks.

(Jan 13) The final analysis of the December Jobs Report was the column "Recovery Fading for those 40-54."  Some of the people in the media are blaming the declining participation rate under President Obama on the aging of the workforce. While there is an age shift ongoing in the workforce, those changes are not what you might think that they are.

(Jan 14) The week following the release of the monthly Employment Situation Report, or Jobs Report, is often a slow week for data. This affords the opportunity to dig further into the numbers. There is more to examine than the Current Population Survey (CPS) Jobs Numbers and the Unemployment and Participation Rates. There is more to examine than the Current Employment Statistics (CES) Private Sector or Non-Farm Payroll Worker Numbers. There is the total number of jobs created by the President, the total number of unemployed workers, and the missing participants, There are the number of people working multiple jobs. There is a sector by sector analysis of the incomplete recovery. We can examine how man and women are performing in the recovery. We can even examine the jobs and unemployment situation by gender. The week in review column ishere.

(Jan 19) Thursday we saw the release of the weekly unemployment claims report. This report has been promoting a False Assertion Considered to be True (FACT) that we have had nearly two years of Seasonally Adjusted (SA)First-time Unemployment(FTU) Claims under 300,000 claimants. We were under 300,000 SA FTU claimants again, even though we have been above 300,000 non-seasonally Adjusted FTU claims since Thanksgiving. Why did they stop promoting the streak? Did they start reading this column? The column "Unemployment Claims Streak Ends?" goes into more detail.

(Jan 20)
This week the data that was released was overshadowed by the inauguration. The rest of the media was reporting strong Automobile Sales and Strong on-line sales. This column published the article "December Retail Sales Strong - Except Three Sectors." Three sectors saw weaker sales this December compared to December 2015. Three Sectors experienced lower sales during December 2016 than they experienced during December 2007. This has been an incomplete recovery.

(Jan 21) Yesterday we saw the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States.Out with the old and in with the new. We saw a new leader take the reigns. We saw history made. That was Friday. We saw the Federal Debt creep closer to $20 trillion. We saw New Construction data released, more on that nest week. We saw seasonally adjusted first time unemployment claims reported at a "historic" low and we saw retail sales receive a lukewarm reception. There was a ton of information to digest and discuss. Some of the discussion happened this week. Some discussion of this week's data will hit next week.

(Jan 24) New home sales are a huge stimulant to the economy. New Construction provides jobs for builders, electricians, plumbers, drywall people, carpet companies, painters, landscapers, and retail people. New homes need new or newer furniture, new appliances, new electronics, and new knickknacks.  We need to have housing Starts to get housing units under construction. We need units under construction to obtain completions. We need completions for sales. We are recovering from the worst housing recession of the past 40 years. We are in a recovery mode. We have a long way to go to get to an expansion mode. "December New Construction Lackluster" details how the data was strong compared to 2008-2015 and is still historically weak.

(Jan 25) Residential home sales are a driver for the economy as a whole. People who buy homes need other goods and services. The December New Home Construction Data was a little disappointing. The new construction market is still in recovery mode - it may be decades before it is in expansion mode. We need jobs, full-time jobs, for people to qualify for mortgages to purchase these homes. The December Jobs Report was deceptive - and should have been disappointing as well. There are more than one way to examine the sales data, remembering that all real estate is local - down to the neighborhood or condominium association. Units sold are important. The average Sales Price is important. The current year sales data is important as is the rolling year data. So how did we do? The column "December Existing Home Sales Flat" examines the rolling year trends and the current year trends. The existing Home Sales market has not recovered to pre-recession levels.

(Jan 26) The Weekly Unemployment Claims Report was released with little fanfare. The President's First-time Unemployment Streak is no longer referenced in the body of the report. Could it be that they have been reading my articles on their fake news? The non-seasonally adjusted First-time Unemployment Claim number hit a 18 year low for the third week of January. If they had used prior seasonal factors it would have been reported as the highest seasonally adjusted FTU claim number during the past eighteen years,

(Jan 26)
How many ways can you say lackluster, flat, unenthusiastic, ho-hum, or unremarkable? December was a lackluster month for new home construction and for existing home sales. The same could be said for the new home sales data. The units sold have been fairly consistently better than prior years, month after month. The problem is that where the media is saying that it is the "best in almost a decade" forget that it is worse than we saw during the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. The housing market is getting a "D" where it used to get an "F."Remember that all real estate is local, community, school district, neighborhood or condominium complex,  as you read "Non-Plus December New Home Sales Data". The national picture is a 30,000 foot level view.

(Jan 27) Every month it is the same story: Media hypes upcoming jobs report. ADP jobs report is released to temper the potential news. The jobs report doesn't match the ADP number. The jobs number is a "Goldilocks" number, not too hot, not too cool. Not right. The seasonal FACTors used to convert the non-seasonally adjusted data to the reported seasonally adjusted data have been skewed to get that Goldilocks number. The media reports on the report not on the data.Data revisions and improper seasonal factors are giving the wrong picture of the economy. "Jarring January Jobs Report Forecast" explains how we will see NSA Job loss, NSA worker Loss, a spike in unemployment, a drop in participation and how the authors of the report will manipulate the data. It is possible that they will skew the data low to show a "job loss" in the Private Sector number used for Obama's job streak thinking that this is President Trump's first report and not President Obama's final report.

(Jan 28)   This week was a big week in the news. We saw housing data released. We saw Gross Domestic Product data released. It was the first week in office for President Trump. There was a skirmish in the media regarding the size of the crowd at the Inauguration of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. A new phrase entered the lexicon  in the form of "alternative facts." FACTs in this column are False Assertions Considered to be True. Normally these FACTs are created by using seasonally factors from different seasons and different year and applying them to current data. FACTs can be created by creating new seasonal factors that have never been previously used. Sometimes FACTs are published as "streaks." The Job Creation streak ended this past May - Maybe even January of 2015. The January Jobs Report is being released next week. The rest of the media will be framing it as President Trumps first Jobs Report. That is also a FACT. It is actually President Obama's Final Jobs report because the job collection was done through January 12th. The seasonally adjusted data is what is reported. The non-seasonally adjusted data is what is recorded.

(Jan 30 ) The December Consumer Price Index Report was released January 18th, two days prior to the Inauguration of President Trump. Do you remember it? The report, not the inauguration. The CPI data records increases in various sectors and can e broken down to the nth degree. The problem is that each sector and sub-sector has its own seasonal factor that can change from month to month and year to year. Buying blueberries is more expensive some months than other months. The problem is that we literally, and figuratively, need to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. The rest of the people reporting on this data like to exclude the "volatile food and energy" sectors. I wish I could exclude those items, however they are essential in this day and age. So what happened? "December CPI: Medical, Shelter, Energy Inflation" goes into detail.

(Jan 31) The Gross Domestic Product is an indicator of economic health. When the GDP is negative for back to back quarters the country is officially in a recession. The headline number is the annualized, Table 1, single quarter value. This is the change from the immediate quarter. If a the prior quarter us negative and there is substantial improvement, the following quarter may have a distorted value. The Real GDP number is the annual GDP measure from the same quarter from the prior year, Table 8 data. You may have heard that President Obama never had a full year of GDP growth of 3.0% or higher. This month's data was interesting because it was the advance value for the fourth quarter. There will be a preliminary value released next month and a "final" value released the following month. The data was also interesting because we saw such a surge during the third quarter and such a disappointing fourth quarter. "The Fourth Quarter GDP Report Disappointed."