Reclaiming Common Sense

This week the people in the little screen were discussing a "Constitutional Crisis" regarding the US Attorney General not releasing sealed grand jury testimony regarding the "Collusion Crisis." The media continues to discuss the "Border Crisis," also known as the "Illegal Immigrant Invasion." We also had the "Stock Market Crisis" due to the "China Crisis." These stories sucked the oxygen out of the room regarding solid employment data, a record level of March job openings, dropping continuing claims data, and the lowest level of combined unemployment and inflation since at least 1980.


(May 6) The April jobs report was released just over a week ago. The pundits were projecting 180,000 non-farm payroll (NFP) positions and 3.8% U-3 unemployment. This graphic is just about worn out. There is more to the report than the NFP and U-3 numbers. "Workers and Wages Pop during April" examined the annual growth in all sectors month to month, except mining and logging, and annual growth in all sectors except Information Technology. All sectors have received pay raises since April 2018.


(May 7) One of the series of articles that is part of the foundation of this column is the "Five Presidents" series. It started with the "Four Presidents at __ Months" series while there was more than a year left in the Obama Administration. "Five Presidents at 27 Months: Full-time Economy" details how President Trump has done something that former Presidents Regan, George W. Bush, and Obama were unable to do after 27 months in office: Cut unemployment and grow full-time jobs. Former President Clinton also added jobs while cutting unemployment at the same point in his Presidency. President Trump has added more full-time jobs than the other four former Presidents combined.


(May 7)  The first piece of "new" news this week was the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) of openings, separations, quits, and hires. We set a "March Jobs Opening Record," non-seasonally adjusted. The months change, the story remains the same. The four sectors with the most job openings, the most hires, the most separations, and the most quits are Professional Business Services, Leisure and Hospitality, Trade, Transportation and Utilities, and Education and Health Services.


(May 8) An interesting situation was noted while researching the "Four Presidents" series: we had a jobs iceberg. Full-time jobs were the underside of the iceberg and part-time jobs were the top of the iceberg. We also see the same iceberg for men and women workers. The article "Men and Women Replacing Part-time Jobs with Full-time Jobs" displayed how the jobs iceberg has melted and has become a "jobs mountain."


(May 9) If this is the "most unloved Bull Market in history" then the weekly unemployment claims report is the most "unloved" economic report that is released on a weekly or monthly basis. "Continuing Unemployment Claims Continue to Drop" looks at the formerly headline "Seasonally Adjusted First-time Unemployment Claims" data, the rarely mentioned continuing claims data, and the almost always ignored Insured Unemployment Rate (IUR.) Four years of seasonally adjusted first-time claims at or below 300,000 claims is "old news." Two years of seasonally adjusted Continuing Claims under 2 million claims had been ignored. Ask "anyone" what the IUR is and you would receive a "deer in the headlights glare." Don't be that person.


(May 10)  Friday's "new" news was seriously low inflation. There used to be a "Misery Index" that was discussed. The Misery index is the addition of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate and coming up with one number. This is dubious math. Try adding 3.3% of a car with 1.8% of a pie and see what happens. "April Inflation Remains Low" examines the on-going commodity deflation, service inflation story.  It also discusses how the "Phillips Curve" is broken, again. The Phillips Curve plots the rate of inflation against the Inflation rate. Dubious math, again.


(May 10) Real estate sales help spur the economy. We will receive the New Home Construction Data May 16th, the Existing Home sales data May 21st, and the April New Home Sales Data May 23rd.  We saw a slow start to the year for existing home sales, in part due to the weather, and in part due to the Government Shutdown. "April Real Estate Forecast: Spring Sales Surge" examines the non-seasonally adjusted data and explains how while 2018 was the "Year of the Starts" that 2019 is shaping up to be the "Year of the Completions." New Home sales should continue growing month to month and should remain ahead of the 2018 levels. Existing Home Sales need more inventory to create more sales.


There is more that is happening that North Korean Rocket Launches, China Trade Talks, and "Mueller, Mueller, Mueller." We have a strong economy. It may not quite be the strongest economy, based on GDP, and still it is a strong economy as compared to the past 10 to 15 years. Full-time jobs are up. This provides stability to the economy. Wages are up. This boosts disposable income and allows people to start thinking about buying a home.  Inflation is low. Wage growth is real, not inflation created. First-time claims are seriously low, and historically low if adjusted for workforce population growth. Continuing claims are down near historic levels. We could drop below 1.25 million non-seasonally adjusted claims by the first week of October. 


We want to see more full-time jobs than part-time jobs. We want to climb that Jobs Mountain. We want to see men and women enter the workforce, or even re-enter the workforce. We like low inflation. We like low unemployment rates.  Some commentators are being "Anti-Cassandras" looking for economic hurricanes to form during April and May. These Ardnassacs are looking for thunderstorms and tornadoes on a clear blue sky day. Some are even saying that the unemployment claims data is a "lagging indicator." I argue that they are either concurrent or leading indicators, plural. Tenuehe stock Market is a "leading economic indicator" that bases its trend on a lagging economic indicators, corporate revenue and profits. Pay attention to the data, not just the reports.


It's the economy.