More cookin’ the books … giving bad news a positive headline.

I smelled this one a couple of weeks ago … and, surprisingly, haven’t heard any pundits nail it.

Each Thursday morning, the BLS reports new unemployment claims.

Here are the headline numbers from the past couple of weeks:

In the week ending April 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 365,000.

In the week ending May 5, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 367,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 368,000.

In the week ending May 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 370,000, unchanged from the previous week’s revised figure of 370,000.

In the week ending May 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 370,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 372,000.

OK, for 3 weeks running, unemployment claims were unchanged 1 week and declining 2 weeks.

Oh really?

Tabulating the reported data (chart below) reveals a very different trend.

Comparing the so-called advance numbers from month-to-month shows a decline in 2 weeks with 1 week unchanged.

Hmmm.

Comparing the revised numbers from month to month shows a decline in 2 weeks.

Double hmmm.

In other words, in each of the past 3 weeks, the advanced number was low-balled and compared to a number that was revised up.

Changes that coincidently provide positive headlines … for what amounts to be negative news.

Cookin’ the books?

Let’s see what happens in this Thursday’s  & Friday’s unemployment reports. …

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