Reclaiming Common Sense

This week was a busy week for new data to be released. Some of the data was delayed due to the Government Shutdown. Some data was released as scheduled. Some data was well received while some was ignored or misunderstood.

(March 5) This week we received the ADP Payroll report and the Government Jobs report. This was "Government data underwent massive revisions last month. ADP revised their data this month. The article "February 2019 Jobs Report Forecast: Big League" examined the Current Population (CPS) Jobs and unemployment data and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) worker data. The big questions were: Were we going to see the same month to month worker growth we saw last February (probably not,) was the CES seasonal factor going to lower the reported "jobs number (probably,) and would we see a spike in jobs like we have the past three years during February (likely yes.) Remember Jobs and Workers are different measurements.

(March 5) The December  New Home Sales data was a mixture of good news and not so good news. We had the most new home sales for a calendar year since 2007. We continued seeing improving new home sales inventory. On the other side, December sales dropped slightly from December 2017 and the average sales price fell from the record setting December last December, December 2017.  "Best New Home Sales Since 2007" explains it.

(March 6) Wednesday we received the ADP Payroll Report and the ADP Data revisions.  People were "disappointed" with the headline private sector payroll number of 183,000 new payroll positions this February. They forgot hat December, and therefore 2018, was revised up 122,000 positions and January was revised up 209,000, or a net 87,000 higher than December.If that 87,000 was applied to February instead of January the people in the news would have reported an increase from 213,000 to 270,000 instead of a drop from 300,000 to 183,000. They revised the data back to 2002 ."February 2019 ADP Report: Remarkable" explains why this was a strong report with many revisions.

(March 7)  Thursday is STILL Unemployment Report Thursday. The weekly claims report recorded the lowest non-seasonally adjusted First-time Claims data for the first week of March since  March 1, 1969 and reported the lowest seasonally adjusted first-time claims data since March 3, 1973.  "Weekly (Strong) Unemployment Claims Data" also found a similar situation with the continuing claims data and an insured unemployment rate of just 1.47%

(March 7)  Normally once the ADP report is released and the original analysis is completed the analysis is "put to bed."  Something didn't seem right. Did you hear that the January ADP was revised up to 300,000 "jobs?" Probably. Did you hear that it was the first 300,000 number since 2006? Probably not. "February 2019 ADP Part 2: Remarkable Revisions" looked at the revisions to the Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (TTU,) data and the revisions to the Professional Business Services (PBS) data that roughly mirrored the same changes made with the release of the January Jobs Report from the Government.The TTU and PBS data were revised back to 2002. The other payroll categories were fully revised, too. The net changes were zero between 2002 and 2012. There were significant changes to all data between 2013 and 2018.

(March 8) Friday was "Jobs Friday" The projections elsewhere were 180,000 "jobs" and unemployment dropping to roughly 3.9%.  The problem is that the jobs report was a tale of two data sets. We had weaker than anticipated NSA CES worker growth. The thing is that we added more NSA CES private sector workers than we added during February of 2014, 2015, and 2016. Why was the SA CES data reported lower than February 2014, 2015, and 2016? The Devil is in the seasonal factors and the revisions. The article "Feb. Jobs Report: 1.2 million Jobs or 25,000 Workers" details how the NSA CPS jobs data revealed  that we added 670,000 NSA Full-time Jobs and 532,000 NSA Part-time jobs, better than 2014, 2015, and 2016 and how the SA CPS data had the 2019 data behind 2016, 2015, and ahead of 2014. Sometimes Up is Down in Government Math.

There is a considerable amount of data that is released in the monthly jobs report. This column will produce more articles next week. Average Hourly Wages rose last month for all sectors. Hours did not increase for all sectors. A regular comparison article is the "Five Presidents" series where FT job, PT job, and Unemployment data is compared for the same point in the Presidencies of former Presidents Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama with that of President Trump. The preliminary research has some surprises.

It's the Economy.