Reclaiming Common Sense

The Weekly Unemployment Claims report used to be headline news most Thursdays of the year. There were discussions about the First-time Unemployment Claims Streak by the former administration. The streak has been broken many, many times. The headline Seasonally Adjusted (SA) First-time Unemployment (FTU) Claims number is misleading because the seasonal factors used to convert the recorded Non-Seasonally Adjusted (NSA) FTU claims data to the reported  SA FTU value change week to week, month to month, season to season and year to year. When data from different seasons are compared FACTs (False Assertions Considered to be True) are created. The SA FTU Streak last ended during November 2016. The continuing claims data is often ignored. Low NSA FTU values bring down the NSA Continuing Claims Data.

The Non-Seasonally Adjusted First time Claims number bumped up slightly to 287,103 - Still the lowest for this week of December. The data table shows the data from 2000-2005 and 2012-2017. First time claims had not touched the 200,000 claims line for a very long time. The peak unemployment claims level, the first week of January, has been declining very year since 2009. The unemployment claims data for the third week of December is lower now than 1969, 1970. 1971 are lower with 140,000,000 claimants than when there were less than 54,000,000 claimants.

The Seasonally Adjusted First-time Claims number could have been reported under 230,000 - instead of 245,000. The seasonal factor used during 2015 would yield a level of 239,000. If we used the December 16th seasonal factor from 1967 and applied it to the December 16th 2017 data then we would have 241,000 claims reported. We could go as low as 230,000. That would be headline news. How about 226,000 claims?

The Non-Seasonally Adjusted Continuing Claims number edged higher - Still the lowest of the century. Fewer first-time claims, on a consistent basis, means lower continuing claims - especially as temporary work is found during the run-up to Christmas. How low can the data fall? Will it be reported if it is even recorded?

The Seasonally Adjusted Continuing Claims Number could have been reported as low as 1.871 million. Not only could the data have been reported lower it should have been reported lower. Take a pick of seasonal factors for the second week of December - remembering that the continuing claims data lags behind the first-time claims data by one week. The continuing claims data has been under 2 million for months. Nobody else discusses this number.

This continuing claims data is the one closest to the collection date for the employment situation report. The claims level is up roughly 200,00 claims during the past month. The covered insured is steady at 1.4% Either the unemployment level will spike by 600,000 or it will be unimpacted as some of those who are unemployed find temporary work. The unemployment claims data matters. If people start paying attention to this data once again then they will realize that the economy is firing on all cylinders.

It's the economy.