Thursday, March 8, 2012

Unemployment Claims Rise Three Weeks in a Row: Media Lies Continue Weekly

Oh. You ask what the headline from media liears was? Here it is:

"Jobless claims rise off of lows."

This blog is simply NEVER wrong on the media LIES in the way this weekly number of new unemplyment claims is reported. You will remember that this blog told you LAST WEEK that the mild "drop" in claims last week was, in fact, a RISE. That made the score: This blog 5,737 Medialiars: 0. The number reported last week ws REVISED upward this week to 354,0000. The number INITIALLY REPORTED tis week was 362,000, up 8l,000--according to MEDIA LIARS. But YOU know, from this blog, that this is comp;oaring appples and oragnes, since it is compairing a REVISED NUMBER (the 354,000) with an UNREVISED NUMBER (the 363,000). The 362,000, if CONSISTENT recent history is followed, will be rEVISED UPWARD next week to 3565,000 (give or take a thousand or so), or up 11,0000 (not 8,000).

So much for my wekly exposure of MEDIA LIES, except that I again note that the main LIE here is the idea that these numbers are some sort of "exact" number, instaead of FALLIBLE ESTIMATEES (based on a subjective seasonal adjustment formula which CAN be off by as much as 50,000) Despite the impression the media gives, these weekly reported numbers are NOT a matter of "counting" Not only are they REVISED the next week, but the "seasonal adjustment" (off of teh "counting" number) can be 100000 or more. Thus, the weekly number is fairly meaningless, except OVER TIME (in other words, except as figured into the numbers over time).

Over time, we have STALLED. The number has not changed, except slighjtly UPWARD, in a month. This repeats the PATTERN of the past two years, where this weekly number of new unemplyment claiims reached a LOW in about February, only to RISE into the spring and summer months.

Is the media headline, then, totally a lie? Not quite. It is true that this year is SLIGHTLLY better than last year at this time, and last year was SLIGHTLY better than the year before at the same time. BOTH last year and the year before got WORSE from this point until about the fall. The question this blog has been asking is whether this SEASONAL PATTERN is about to repeat itself again, where the economy looks better at the endi of the year and the first quarter of the next year, but then appears to DETERIORATE as we go into the sprin g and summer. Gasoline preices would indicate that there is a significant danger of the pattern repeating itself once agian, along with multiple other risks. Note that the WEATHER has been unusually good this winter, which, alone, is probably enough to "explain" the SMALL "improvement" fromlast year. No, the 362,0000 does not mean much, in itself, although it expoldes the media MYTH that we are "steadily" "improving". 362,000 is back to the same level of six weeks to two monts ago, but it is only one week. And the low last February was 375,000. That means we have done about 25,000 better this year, where the low has been right at 350,0000. Further, the last three weeks have AlL been right at that 350,000 level, before going back above 360,000 this week. That is an improvement from last year (asuming that this is not all isslusioni created by the "seasonal adjustment" and the better weather (which goes into the seasonal adjustment). As usual, these questins will all be clarified as we head into summer. IF we can stay right at the 350,000 to 360,000 level going into summer, you wou\ul dhagve to say that there has really been an "improvement' (although pretty modest, in that we really need to get down to 300,000 and below for the kind of strong number expected in a strong recovery). But you woululd have to say that the recent seasonal pattern was broken if the weekly number stays at this level. If it continues back UP, then the recent seasonal pattern will be repeating. Notice that STAYING at this same level means NO TONTINUING IMPROVEMENT, although that might be a little misleading if we can avoid the WORSENING of the past two years. But we have not yeat done that, and this week at least leaves ofpen the possibility that we weill repeat the pattern of the past two years. We will not really have frim information on that until, perhaps, the end of MY (although each week is, of coure, another data point).

Tomorrow we get the "jobs created" number, but that number is so MANIPULATED (including the change in the baselines in January as well as the "adjustments"j) that it almost is meaningless on a monthly basis. That number (the onthly number of "jobs created") is REVISED as much as 50,000 or 100,000 in FUTURE MONTHS, telling you just how unreliable the number is. The way the unemplyment RATE is determined was also CHANGED in January, and that is a POLL anayway (as, to a large degeree, is the "jobs created" number). Thus, volatile as it is, the weekly unemplyment claims number, OVER TIME, may be a more reliable indication of whether the economy is really "improving". Over the past two yers, that weekly number has shown LIITTLE improvement, if any . We will see if it is different this year.

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

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