Reclaiming Common Sense

The Weekly Unemployment Claims Data Gets No Respect

The weekly unemployment claims report used to be "Bottom of the Hour Headline News" at 8:30 A.M. Eastern on most Thursdays. The authors of the report used to tout 60, 70, 80, 90 weeks of sub-300,000 seasonally adjusted (SA) first time unemployment (FTU) claims FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True.) Now the report is ignored by most media sources. If it isn't related to Trump, Taxes, or Total Repeal of the ACA (Affordable Care Act or Obamacare,) then it receives scant attention. We have had some of the lowest NSA (non-seasonally adjusted) FTU data for the current week  of the year, Crickets. Last week we had the best data for their respective weeks for the FTU and CC data since 1970. The data last week were for the last week September and the first week of October for continuing claims. This is the Rodney Dangerfield of economic report - It can't get any respect

The Non-Seasonally Adjusted and the Seasonally Adjusted First-time Unemployment Claims Numbers FELL. Last week's data was revised higher from 228,046 to 229,288 NSA FTU. The SA FTU remained under 250,000 claims at 244,000. What Hurricane Harvey and Irma impact? This week the data is 204,788 NSA FTU claims and 222,000 SA FTU claims.

Lowest First-time Claims Data for Second Week of October since 1969. Unemployment claims were first established during 1967. We have nearly 100 million more covered workers than we had during the 1960s - the data is not available for covered insured until January of 1971 when we had 53 million covered insured. This week we have over 139,000,000. The authors of the report created the seasonally adjusted component so that the confusion of spiking claims during January and the valleys during October are not too confusing. The first-time claims were reported at 222,000 - it could have been reported at 204,000. How would this have been received by the markets? 

The Non-Seasonally Adjusted and the Seasonally Adjusted Continuing Claims Data both Fell this week, too. The continuing claims data gives some insight into which direction the U3 unemployment number will be recorded during the jobs report reporting period. This week we have the data for the week ending October 7th. Next week the data is for the week ending October 14th. The Employment Situation report, the Current Population Survey specifically, measures unemployment on the 12th of the month.  We have 1.623 million continuing claims during the middle of September. Roughly one in four people who are unemployed receive benefits (1.1% NSA Covered insured this week versus 4.07 NSA U3 last month.) If the continuing claims data drops by another 59,000 claims next week, and it could, then we will have roughly 125,000 fewer NSA CC than mid-September. This may mean that the U3 level could drop by 500,000 workers.

The Lowest recorded First Week of October NSA CC number could have been reported even lower than it was. The data from last week, the fifth and final week of September, was revised higher from 1,570,107 to 1,582,555. This week the number dropped to 1,559,307. You would have to go back to June 2, 1973 for a lower NSA CC. The seasonal factors show that this number could have been reported lower if they used the seasonal factors for this week of the month that were used during 2012-2016. We had fewer continuing claims , recorded and reported, that we had during October 1970.

Some of the Best Unemployment Claims Data for the past 47 years.  Let that percolate. Let that digest. Look at the numbers. Hear what I am saying. If Hillary Clinton had been elected then we would be hearing the FACT that this sub-300,000 unemployment claims streak is heading into its third year. Someone would be screaming that the claims data was the best since 1970, other than just this column. This weekly report gets no respect. Share this article with your friends. 

This had been the  "A Few Good Men" Economy. We couldn't handle the truth. This had been the "Cool Hand Luke Economy." We had had a failure to communicate (participate.) Now we are in the Rodney Dangerfield Economy, as Elizabeth MacDonald from Fox Business claimed recently. The data gets no respect. 

It's the economy.