Reclaiming Common Sense

The weekly unemployment claims data was released at the same time as the Gross Domestic Product Report for the "final" Fourth Quarter Read on growth. The weekly report was one of the most anticipated numbers of the week until we dropped to seventeen year lows. The report records the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) first-time Unemployment (FTU) claims number and the NSA Continuing Claims (CC) Number. The seasonally adjusted (SA) version of the FTU number is the "headline" number. Last week the seasonal factors used to convert the NSA data to the SA data were revised from the first week of January 2012 through the rest of this year. There wasn't an historic Under 300,000 SA FTU claims streak before the revisions, there isn't one after the revisions.

This week the Seasonally Adjusted First time Claims Number dropped even after the non-seasonally adjusted data rose. Ho Hum.Last week's data was revised to 224,969 NSA FTU and 261,000 SA FTU. If we used the originally published seasonal factors then the SA FTU would have been reported at 255,000. I guess we are in the "A Few Good Men" economy - We can't handle the Truth.

The Continuing Claim Number ticked up, seasonally adjusted and non-seasonally adjusted. First-time numbers create the continuing claims number.  The continuing claims number was reported at 2.025 million for March 4, 1.987 million for March 11, and 2.052 million for March 18. These numbers could have been reported at 2.060 million, 2.030 million, and 2.048 million, respectively, using the previously released seasonal factors.

The unemployment claims report is not moving markets because people who follow this report, and this column, know that the unemployment claims level is being skewed low by an elevated level of part-time jobs and an elevated level of people working two jobs. When a person loses a part-time job, they do not receive unemployment benefits. When a person loses one of his or her jobs they still have a job so they are not unemployed, just lesser employed. There is no "lesser employed" insurance. One last thought: We are not funding the unemployment benefits account as fast as we have during prior years.

Next Friday we will receive the March Jobs Report. This column has projected a "Mad" March Jobs Report. We should see unemployment drop, full-time employment surge, participation increase, and possibly even add part-time jobs. We should see worker expansion, too.What is going to happen to the multiple Jobholder section of the economy? It depends upon whether or not people are going to hire season full-time employees, seasonal part-time employees, or permanent employees.

It's the economy.