Thursday, March 1, 2012

Unemployment Claims and Media Lies: The Thursday Report

Look at last week's blog article on the report on new unemployment claims (for the previous week, released every Thursday by the Labor Department). Score now: Blog 3,915 Media 0.

Lest you forget, as the dishonest, incompedtent media routinely does, the number of new unemploymnet claisms REPORTED (initially) last week was 351,000, syupposedly UNCHANGED fromt eh number of the week before (initially reported as 348,0000). As this blog told you, this meant that the number of new unmployment claims WENT UP last week (instead of being unch;anged), because the number is always rEVISED upward. This blog was correct, as usual, as last' week's initially reported nubber was REVISED upward by 2,000 (1,000 less than the usual average of about 3,000), to 353,000--meaning that unemplyment claims ROSE 2,000 last week (disregarding that there is a margin of error of about 50,000 in each of these weekly numbers).

That makes a LIE out of this week's initial report that the number of new unemploymnet claims for last week "dropped" 2,000, to 351,000. If you are following this, you know that is a LIE. 351,000 happens to be the SAME number as initialy reported last mweek, meaning that the number was totaly UNCHANGED on an apples-to-apples basis. If you take the average UPWARD REVISION, it is even likely that the number of unemplooyment claims ROSE for the second week in a row (to 354,000, using the average revision of about 3,000). The reporting on these weekly numbers is just abysmal.

I will say that got the bottom line approximately correct this tieme, after virtually being hit on the head, altkhough I doubt if all of the media did. Oh, Marketwatch continued the fundamental LIE about this being a concrete number each week, reather than a fallible estimate, but this conclusion was approximately correct: "The number of new unemplyment claims appears to have settled into a (narrow) range consistent with modest improvement in hiring." The headline was not even that bad: "Jobless claims little changed last week." As this blog has just informed you above, the number of claims has stayed essentially UNCHANGED for the last two weeks, perhaps having RISEN (slightly, and well within the large margin of error) the past two weeks.

Even though we are NOT IMPROVEING right now, this recent, although deceptive, "consistency" of new unemployment claims right at 350,000 is a SLIGHT improvement from this time last year (maybe about 35,000). That "improvement" could, PERHAPS, be ENTIRELY explained by the improvement in the WEATHER this winter. As this blog has explained to you, the real question here is whether this apparent improvement is REAL, or whether the SEASONAL PATTERN of the past two years will repeat itself (with the apparent situation DETERIORATING as we head into summer). As this blog has proven, the fundamental media LIE here is that these weekly numbers are EXACT. They are SEASONALLY ADJUSTED--not just a matter of counting. And those seasonal adjustments are SUBSTANTIAL (as much as 1000,000 in a week). That is the main rason that it is obvius that there is a "margin of error" of at least 50,000 in any one week. And changes in the seasonal pattern can throw off the number for even months. These numbers ONLY have significance OVER TIME, and even then the better method of looking at the numbers is to compare a week's RAW number with the RAW (not seasonally adjusted number) for the previous YEAR. This, of course, the media never does. The media is totally invested in the LIE (as they are wwith polls) that this weekly number is an eXACT number (a lie implicit in the way the number is reported, even if the media would deny they are explicitly asserting that lie).

Thu,s, the last three weeks SEMM to say that the number of new unemplyment claims have STUCK at almost EXACTLYL 350,000. That is a LIE. The numbers are not nearly that precise. Again, the only thing we can really say is taht there is a SLIGHT improvement in the seasonally adjusted numbers over the past month, as compared with last year. And yes, if the seasonal adjustment is anywhere near accurate, this IS "consistent" with MODEST improvement in hiring (even though this number is NOT a measur of hiring , but a measure of LAYOFFS).

Bottom line; The apparent "improvement' in new unempoloyment claims has again STALLED, although the four-week average continues to drop slightly. Time will tell if teh seasonal pattern of the past two years will repreat as we head toward spring and summer.

P.S. No proofreading or spell checking (bad eyesight).

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