Reclaiming Common Sense

(May 1) Hooray, Hooray the First of May. "April ADP Reveals Spike in Payroll" reported that while there were modest declines in Natural Resources Payroll and IT Payroll there was strength elsewhere. The headline number was 275,000 payroll positions added during April. There were 23,000 positions added to February's 197,000 to boost that number to 220,000 positions. March was revised up by another 22,000 positions. This means that in addition to the official 275,000 that there were another 45,000 positions added with the release of the report. The headline number could have been 320,000.

(May 2) The weekly unemployment claims data is the most unloved report in the media. It used to be headline news if the seasonally adjusted (SA) first-time (FTU) claims data came in under 300,000 claims. That is so four years ago. We had 204,035 non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time claims and 230,000 SA FTU. The continuing claims (CC) data has been under 2 million SA CC for more than two years. This week the NSA CC was 1.647M and the SA CC was 1.671M. The percentage of covered insured receiving continuing claims dropped to 1.15%. "April 27 First-time Claims Remain Strong" goes into more details.

(May 3)
Someone, somewhere, gets paid a considerable amount of money to saw that the economy is going to "add 180,000 jobs and that unemployment will remain steady at 3.8%" month in and month out. There is rarely any mention that the "jobs" number is actually the Current Employment Statistics (CES) worker data and the unemployment data comes from the Current Population Survey (CPS) jobs and unemployment data." This year has been the :Tale of Two Data Sets" with regard to the jobs and workers data. This month was no different. "April Jobs Report: What On-coming Storm" reported that we saw month to month growth in all sectors except mining and Logging. It also reported that we saw annual growth April to April in all sectors except IT. The surge in CES workers was not reflected in the Jobs data from the CPS data set. We had a very strong non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) CES worker number, growing by 1.126 million non-farm payroll (NFP) positions. This was reported as an increase of 263,000 seasonally adjusted (SA) NFP and 236,000 private sector jobs. There was an upward revision to the February NSA data of 10,000 private sector jobs, total jobs. This also boost the March data by 9,000 Private sector workers, net-net 245,000 private sector positions were added during April.

(May 4) The article "May the Fourth Week in Review" was titles such to play off the "May the Fourth Be With You" meme. It covered the Articles from May first, second, and third as well as articles from the waning days of April, including the ADP forecast article, the Jobs Report Forecast article, and the ADP "results" article.

(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.

(May 11) "May 11 Week in Review: Data Crisis" 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 14) The week started with the article "April Retail Sales Forecast: Slowing while Growing." Last year we had our first $6 trillion total retail sales year, according to the MARTS (Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey) data. The rate of growth of sales had been slowing, non-seasonally adjusted, had been slowing since last Summer, dropping below a robust 5% and heading toward a still strong 4%. This month the data was expected to remain above 4%. This month it was expected that all but two retail sectors would contract month to month while all sectors except one grew April to April. It is good to know what to expect when the report is finally released.

(May 15) The April Retail Sales Report was better than expected, and reported as being weaker than March. "April Retail Sales Record a Rebound" explains that the same month growth was 4.97%. All sectors except four had record levels of sales for April. Gasoline Sales  was not a record April. Neither were Electronics and Appliances, Furniture and Furnishings, nor the Sporting Goods, Hobbies, Books, and Music sector. We are still in our Retail Renaissance.

(May 16) We had our sixth week this year with the non-seasonally adjusted first-time unemployment claims being reported under 200,000 claims this week. Ho Hum. It's not like we only did this once during 2015, twice during 2016, and four times during 2017.  Oh, the non-seasonally adjusted continuing claims level dropped to  1.536 million claims and the Insured Unemployment Rate dropped to 1.07%. The article "May Unemployment Data Dropping Like a Rock" explains it all,

(May 17) New Home Construction is an economic stimulus. New home construction is required for new home sales. New home starts have been slowing as new home completions have been picking up the pace. "April New Home Completions Bode Well" explains how the New Home Starts dropped from the April 2018 level, the Units Under Construction data is near an all-time high, and Completions were at their highest April level since April 2007. The April new home completions data bode well for new construction jobs, for retail sales in the Building Material and Garden Equipment Sector, the Furnishings and Furniture Sector, the Electronics and Appliance Sector, and the Employment Statistics Sectors for workers in Retail, Construction, and Professional Business Services.

(May 18) The article "May 18 Week in Review: Data what Data" reviewed the week's articles and found that this week was a roller coaster week in the stock markets with that first big dip, and many twist and turns, that ended up nearly back where we started. This big news wasn't really explained in the media very well. Retail Sales set an April record, up nearly 5% from last April while weekly first-time claims dropped significantly to one of the lowest levels for the Second Week of May.

(May 21)  We set an April Average Sales Price record for exiting homes this month. Inventory increased month to month and April to April. We sold more units this April than we did during the month of April from 2008 through 2015. Did you hear the good news? "April Existing Home Average Sales Price Record" goes into the details

(May 23)  The weekly unemployment claims data is so good that it is actively being ignored. We had our seventh week this year with the non-seasonally adjusted first-time claims under 200,000 claims. Continuing claims fell. The insured unemployment rate is 1.07%. How good is this data? "First-time Claims Remain under 200,000 Claims" explains it.

(May 23)  New home sales create economic momentum. New construction requires retail sales, construction jobs, professional business jobs, and generates symbiotic service needs. "April New Home Sales jumped 8.9%" compared to last April. We saw a new April Average Sales Price record set. Every month this year has had more sales than the same month during 2018. Mean while the powers that be in the media we wringing their hands regarding a drop in the annualized sales (this happens "every" April.) Oh, the fact that we beat the projected annual rate of new home sales that was published last April for this April (673,000 versus 662,000) was ignored.

(May 25) "May 25 Week in Review: Housing Data Rocks" covers the prior three articles. It found that this week we received strong new home sales data and improving existing home sales data. When people are working full-time jobs they may feel like spending more money on housing and retail items. When fewer people are unemployed we generally see that more people are working. We received good information on the existing home inventory and average sales price. The Existing homes sales data were within expectations. Unemployment is near historic lows with historic employment during April/May. New home sales were good, period.

(May 30) First-time unemployment claims came in under 200,000 claims, non-seasonally adjusted, for the eighth time this year. Continuing Claims, dropped to 1.505 million claims, non-seasonally adjusted. "How Low Does Unemployment Have to Fall" was asking how low does the data have to fall to be reported? How low will it fall before it has to rise just due to the growing workforce population and the increasing number of covered insured workers?

(May 30) This week we received the Preliminary first quarter GDP data. This is the first revision to the first quarter data. "Preliminary First Quarter GDP at 3.1%" details how all cylinders are firing: Personal Consumption Expenditures, Gross Private Domestic Investments, Net Exports, and Government Consumption Expenditures. It also details how the trend is our friend.