Reclaiming Common Sense

This week was a week for delayed data to be released and a week for other data to be analyzed at a deeper level. We received the January Retail Report, the January New Home Sales data, the January JOLTS report, the February CPI Inflation data, and dug further into the February Jobs Report Data.

(March 11) The February Jobs Report was a "Tale of Two Data Sets." We saw the addition of 1.2 million non-seasonally adjusted Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs and the addition of only 25,0000 seasonally adjusted Current Employment Statistics (CES) private sector workers. The article " February Wages and Workers Data: Wow" compared the number of non-seasonally adjusted CES workers and their wages from February 2018 and February 2019. The largest wage growth was in Information, Leisure and Hospitality (LAH,) Financial Services, Professional Business Services (PBS) and Construction.

(March 11) The former President made a big deal of comparing President Trump's first two years in office with his final two years in office. The problem was that President Trump had not been in office for 24 months as of November 2018. "Five Presidents at 25 Months: Participating" compares former Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W Bush and Obama with the current President, President Trump at the same point in their Presidencies. President Trump has added more full-time jobs at the same point in his Presidency as his predecessors  than his predecessors oversaw combined. President Trump came into office with the lowest participation rate than any of his predecessors. He is catching up with former President Reagan's participation rate.

(March 12) We had a record year for retail sales during 2018. This was ignored. We had a record January for retail sales. This was ignored elsewhere. The article "January Retail: Best January Ever" addressed the data and found that there was a drop in January to January sales in the "Furniture and Furnishing" sector, the "Electronics and Appliance " sector, and the "Miscellaneous Store" sector. This was not anticipated. This may have been related to the Government Shutdown as the loan approval process for home sales appears to have been slowed by the shutdown, slowing sales of homes, slowing the sale of other items.

(March 13) There have been discussions about wage growth, or the lack of wage growth, for years. Now the discussion is are we having enough wage growth to offset inflation? The goal posts have been moved. The article "February Health Insurance Inflation hits 7.7%" examined the data by category and found that we STILL have commodity deflation, shelter inflation, service inflation, and Health Insurance inflation.

(March 14) One of the  economic reports that used to be headline news at the bottom of the hour, the weekly unemployment claims report, is now actively being ignored. "First-time Unemployment Claims Marching Lower" examined the first-time claims data, the continuing claims data, and the insured unemployment rate (IUR) data and found that the data all record  non-seasonally adjusted declines and the FTU and CC data reported seasonally adjusted increases in levels. Down was reported as up.

(March 15) This month we should have received the New Home Construction data, new Home Sales data, and Existing Home Sales data for February Sales. January New Home Sales. The Government Shutdown shutdown the release of some data, including new home construction data and new home sales data.  Last Friday, Friday March 8, the Jobs Report was released. That same day the New Home Construction report for January was released. It was buried. The Article "January New Home Sales Finally Revealed" addressed both the new home sales data and the new home construction data. There were fewer expensive homes sold and more homes in the $200,000-$299,999 price range sold this January than last January. This brought down the average sales price a little.  The New Construction Starts data was the best January since 2007. Under Construction data continued to expand January to January. These reports were remarkable.

(March 15)  The current month data for the Jobs Report is released the week prior to the JOLTS job openings report for the prior month. This month we received the February Jobs Report and the January JOLTS Report. This month we saw significant revisions to the JOLTS data, some of which was detailed in the report, some of which was implied, and some of which was buried in the report notes.  "January JOLTS Data Jump" examined the non-seasonally adjusted data and found that we had a record level of Quits, and Job Openings for the month of January this past January. We had the second most January Hires ever. The sectors with the most job openings also had the most quits, the most total separations, and the most hiring. The article also looked at the regions with the most job openings, hires, quits and separations.

The economic data is being seasonally adjusted from great data to good data and from record levels to middling levels. There is more happening than the headlines would have you believe.

It's the Economy.