Reclaiming Common Sense

First-time Claims Record Increase, Report Decrease,

Compared to Last Week.


The weekly unemployment claims number used to be a headline number. Thursdays were not complete without some discussion regarding the seasonally adjusted First-time Unemployment claims number. The Department of Labor releases the first-time Unemployment (FTU) claims number and the continuing claims (CC) number. The number recorded is the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data. The reported value is the seasonally adjusted (SA) value. The seasonal factors used to convert the NSA data to the SA data change from week to week, month to month, season to season, and year to year. The authors of the report have been creating FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True) regarding "Best Ever" seasonally adjusted first-time claims numbers. 


The super FACT is that we have had 86 consecutive weeks of under 300,000 first-time claims. The streak did not start last year.A four part series detailed how the streak actually began this January. This streak occasionally gets mentioned in the media. This is the same media that has not noticed that the President's Consecutive months streak of job creation ended this May. he streak ended when the July Jobs Report released the June Jobs numbers and the May revisions.


First Time Claims Recorded an increase of 3,000 claims - Reported a drop of 3,000 claims. This is the difference a seasonal factor makes. Last week's numbers were revised slightly higher from 233,181 to 233,656. The Seasonally Adjusted FTU number was reported at 258,000, down from 261,000. It could have been reported between 250,000 and 264,000 claims using the seasonal factors for the fourth week of October used between 2000 and 2015.


Continuing Claims jumped 33,000 - reported as declining 15,000. Last week the October 8 NSA CC was recorded at 1.706 million and reported at 2.054 million claims. This week, October 15, the NSA CC increased to 1.739 million and was reported as dropping from 2.054 million to 2.039 million. The problem is that the number of unemployed reported last month was 7.658 million workers, according to the NSA Current Population Survey data.  The data closest to the CPS data was 2.061 continuing claims. This means that we could see a huge drop in the NSA Unemployment (U-3) number this month.


Does this report mean anything?  Earlier this month this column published an article on the Four Presidents at 92 months. It disclosed the number of missing participants due to the drop in the workforce participation rate over the past 8 years. There are 7.7 million to 9.8 million missing participants.


There are more "missing participants" than unemployed workers. Are they unemployed? What is the real unemployment rate? Hint: it is over 9% and under 12%.


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