Posts Tagged ‘BLS’

Old song … BLS still under-reporting initial unemployment claims.

November 1, 2012

Yeah, yeah, yeah … I’m getting as tired writing about it as you’re getting reading about it.

But, the BLS streak — understating initial claims – continued this week.

Now we’re up to at least 26 election season weeks in a row that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on today’s BLS report, the number for the week ending October 20 was revised upward from 369,000 to 372,000 … making this week’s headline look 3,000 better.

These guys can’t be this sloppy or this stupid … can they?

image

= = = = =

To put today’s number in context. let’s flashback to the chart in yesterday’s post

The reported 4-week moving average is 374,000.

So, if the relationship of inital unemployment claims and the unemployment rate holds, tomorrow’s BLS report should be an unemployment rate of about 8.1%

That’s what all of my analyses say that the number is … but I’m still betting the under.

I think the BLS will fudge the numbers to keep the unemployment rate under 8%.

We’ll see tomorrow.

image

>> Latest Posts

It’s Thursday, so … guess what?

October 4, 2012

Yep, the BLS announced this weeks initial unemployment claims, and you know what?

They revised last week’s headline number up.

Now we’re up to 81 out of 82 weeks — and, at least 22 election season weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending Sept. 15 was revised upward from 359,000 to 363,000.

In itself, the 4,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

I’m now starting to conclude the latter.

The BLS has plenty of statisticians on payroll … and this is an elementary stats problem

* * * * * *

Let’s try a new way of reporting … here’s a picture.

image

Note that the preliminary estimate (the blue line) is ALWAYS low … by a couple of thousand.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or 3k … or .8% to your prelim forecast !

>> Latest Posts

Unemployment claims drop by 3,000 … well, not really.

September 21, 2012

Yesterday’s headline’s trumpeted a 3,000  drop in initial unemployment claims.

Hooray. Right?

Of course not, the BLS revised last week’s number up by 3.000 so that it could report this week as being down by 3,000.

Huh?

Now we’re up to 79 out of 80 weeks — and, at least 20 election season weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending Sept. 8 was revised upward from 382,000 to 385,000.

In itself, the 3,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or 3k … or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

I promise that I’ll stop writing about BLS reporting bias when the streak ends.

>> Latest Posts

Sorry to harp … but, the streak continues

September 7, 2012

Some loyal readers have suggested that I get off this case … That I’ve made my point.

I promise that I’ll stop writing about BLS reporting bias when the streak ends.

Now we’re up to 77 out of 78 weeks — and, at least 18 weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on yesterday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending August 25 was revised upward from 374,000 to 377,000.

In itself, the 3,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or 3k …  or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

>> Latest Posts

Unbelievably, the streak rolls on: BLS under-reports initial unemployment claims … again!

August 31, 2012

Am I the only person in the world to to think this is nuts?

Media sure isn’t reporting it …

Now we’re up to 76 out of 77 weeks — and, at least 17 weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on yesterday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending August 17 was revised upward from 372,000 to 374,000.

In itself, the 2,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

* * * * *

Almost forgot … the preliminary unemployment claims for the week of Aug. 25 are reported even vs. the Aug. 11 preliminary number and up 2K vs the revised Aug. 18 number.

In other words, no indication that a corner has been turned.

image

>> Latest Posts

The streak rolls on: BLS under-reports initial unemployment claims … again!

August 27, 2012

Still again …

Now we’re up to 75 out of 76 weeks — and, at least 16 weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on last Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending August 17 was revised upward from 366,000 to 368,000.

In itself, the 2,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

* * * * *

Almost forgot … the preliminary unemployment claims for the week of Aug. 18 are up 6K vs. the Aug. 11 preliminary number and up 4K vs the revised Aug. 11 number.

In other words, no indication that a corner has been turned.

image

>> Latest Posts

The streak rolls on: BLS under-reports initial unemployment claims … again!

August 17, 2012

One more time …

Now we’re up to 74 out of 75 weeks — and, at least 15 weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending August 3 was revised upward from 361,000 to 364,000.

In itself, the 3,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

* * * * *

Almost forgot … the preliminary unemployment claims for the week of Aug. 11 are up 5K vs. the Aug. 3 preliminary number and up 2K vs the revised Aug.3 number.

In other words, no indication that a corner has been turned.

image

>> Latest Posts

The streak rolls on: BLS under-reports initial unemployment claims … again!

August 10, 2012

I can post this post on auto-generate, I guess …

Now we’re up to 73 out of 74 weeks — and, at least 14 weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending July 28 was revised upward from 365,000 to 367,000.

In itself, the 2,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

* * * * *

Almost forgot …

The 4-week moving average of initial unemployment claims bumped up 2,250 to 368,250 … suggesting that the corner hasn’t been turned yet.

Were jobs added or lost in July?

August 6, 2012

Basic answer: it depends.

It depends on which BLS survey you look at.

The BLS’ “Establishment Survey” polls businesses and collects data on hiring and firing.

It says that 163,000 jobs were added in July … reversing a recent slide.

The BLS’ “Population Survey” polls people instead of businesses and collects data on whether they’re employed, unemployed, looking for work.

The Population Survey says that 195.000 jobs were lost in July … which is why the unemployment rate increased to 8.3%

Note:

  1. Both surveys are conducted by the BLS
  2. The Establishment Survey – which heavily guesstimates small biz hiring & firing —  is the headline jobs number.
  3. The Population Survey is the basis for the headline unemployment rate
  4. From the lips of the BLS: “Both the payroll and household surveys are needed for a complete picture of the labor market. The payroll survey provides a highly reliable gauge of monthly change in nonfarm payroll employment. The household survey provides a broader picture of employment including agriculture and the self-employed.

* * * * *

image

* * * * *

image

* * * * *

image

>> Latest Posts

The streak rolls on: BLS under-reports initial unemployment claims … again!

August 3, 2012

Now we’re up to 72 out of 73 weeks — and, at least 13 weeks in a row — that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending July 21 was revised upward from 353,000 to 357,000.

In itself, the 4,000 isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

* * * * *

Almost forgot …

Ahead of this morning’s BLS unemployment report, Gallup’s unemployment rate bumped up .2% during July and first time unemployment claims increased last week.

My bet BLS will claim we’re steady at 8.2% … and, further nick their credibility.

image

Errata: last line of chart should be dated 7/28/12 … sorry.

>> Latest Posts

Re: Unemployment … this chart says it all

August 2, 2012

There are a lot of of confusing – and sometimes misleading – numbers thrown around to characterize the state of the employment market.

As we’ve been harping the past several weeks, the BLS has been consistently underreporting the weekly unemployment claims numbers that get headlined on the news – only to revise them up quietly the following week.

Similarly, there are lots of questions about the BLS’ seasonal adjustment factors … which sometimes cause more variance than they explain.

Finally, there’s understandable confusion about the reported unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate.  Since the latter has been going down, the former benefits – i.e. there are fewer unemployed people because some (or many) have left the work force.

The St. Louis Fed published a chart that puts the factors into perspective.

The chart is brilliant in its simplicity.

It simply plots the percentage of the able-bodied population who are employed.  The difference to 100% is the percentage of able bodies that either choose not to work or can’t find jobs.

What it shows: prior to the financial crisis, about 63% of able bodies had jobs.

The rate fell quickly to about 58.5% and has – save for some statistical noise – hasn’t budged despite the trillions of  fiscal and monetary action.

In other words, about 1 in 20 (the difference between 63% and 58.5%) able bodied folks who used to work, aren’t employed now … and the trend isn’t good.

image

>> Latest Posts

Amazing: BLS under-reporting streak continues …

July 27, 2012

Now we’re up to 71 out of 72 weeks — and, at least 12 weeks in a row —  that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending July 14 was revised upward from 386,000 to 388,000.

In itself, the 2k isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

>> Latest Posts

BLS streak shamelessly continues …

July 20, 2012

BLS bias continues

Now we’re up to 70 out of 71 weeks that the BLS’s “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending July 7 was revised upward from 350,000 to 352,000.

In itself, the 2k isn’t a big deal.

But, in context it is

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS.

Hint to BLS: just add 2k or  .8% to your prelim forecast !

image

* * * * * *

Increase in Unemployment Claims

And, don’t miss the big point: initial unemployment claims increased by about 10% to 386,000

I expect Team Obama to whine:

“Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”

Safe bet since, as we reported before, that’s exactly what they’ve said each month for over 2 years.

image

>> Latest Posts

The BLS streak continues …

July 16, 2012

No, we didn’t forget … just got busy yesterday.

Now we’re up to 69 out of 70 weeks that the BLS’s  “headline number” has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on Thursday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending June 30 was revised upward from 374,000 to 376,000.

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS !

image

>> Latest Posts

The BLS streak continues …

July 6, 2012

We’re up to 68 out of 69 weeks that the BLS has under-reported the number of initial unemployment claims … and cast the jobs situation as brighter than it really is.

Based on yesterday’s BLS report, the number for the week ending June 23 was revised upward from 386,000 to 388,000.

Again, I ask: statistical bias or political bias?

If the former: fix it already, BLS !

image

>> Latest Posts

Cookin’ the books update: 67 of the last 68 weeks.

June 29, 2012

I know it’s getting a bit tedious … but, , here’s this week’s unemployment claims headline:

“Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000.

The prior week’s figure was revised up to 392,000 from the previously reported 387,000.”

Said differentlt: Unemployment claims (386,000) decreased by 1,000 from last week’s reported number (387,000) … but last week’s reported number (387,000) was revised up by 5,000 to 392,000 … so, this week’s number is not a decrease of 1,000, it’s a decrease of 6,000.

C’mon man.

My bet: this week’s number 386,000 will be revised upward next week.

That’s a safe bet, since the BLS has under-reported initial unemployment claims for 67 out of the last 68 weeks.

Here’s the recap for the past 7 weeks:

image

Bottom line: a consistent bias – maybe statistical, maybe political – that provides Obama with jobs’ headlines more favorable than reality

image

Either the BLS has the worst statisticians on the face of the earth, or they’ve become political hacks.

>> Latest Posts

Cookin’ the books update: They (shamelessly) did it again …

June 22, 2012

OK, here’s this week’s unemployment claims headline:

“Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 387,000.

The prior week’s figure was revised up to 389,000 from the previously reported 386,000.”

Said differentlt: Unemployment claims (387,000) increased by 1,000 over last week’s reported number (386,000) … but last week’s reported number (386,000) was revised up by 3,000  to 389,000 … so, this week’s number is not an increase of 1,000, it’s a decrease of 2,000.

C’mon man.

My bet: this week’s number 387,000 will be revised upward next week.

That’s a safe bet, since the BLS has under-reported initial unemployment claims for 66 out of the last 67 weeks.

Here’s the recap for the past 7 weeks:

image

Bottom line: a consistent bias – maybe statistical, maybe political – that provides Obama with jobs’ headlines more favorable than reality

image

Either the BLS has the worst statisticians on the face of the earth, or they’ve become political hacks.

You decide …

Here’s a shocker for you ….

June 15, 2012

Yesterday, the BLS reported that it’s revising last week’s estimate of new  unemployment claims up by 3,000 … or about 1%

image

We’ve been pointing out this glaring statistical bias for weeks.

Finally, some other media sources have finally jumped on the bandwagon and researched the issue historically.

Turns out that  the weekly jobless claims number has now been revised up 20 weeks in a row and 65 out of the last 66 weeks.

Hmmm.

Why is it important?

Because it means the Feds are consistently under-reporting weekly unemployment claims’ changes … making things look rosier than they really are.

 

image

 

May be an innocent error but, geez, wouldn’t you think the statisticians would have caught on to the bias by now?

>> Latest Posts

Update: Cookin’ the books …

June 11, 2012

Yeah, I’ve been harping on this but it has my attention and I’m dismayed that the mass media hasn’t picked up on it …

Last Thursday’s BLS release on Unemployment Claims did it again … revised upward the prior week’s estimate.

Let’s look at the numbers for the past couple of weeks:

image

In each of the past 5 weeks — maybe longer, I just started tracking then — the so-called “Advance” estimate of weekly unemployment claims eventually got revised upward … by a fairly consistent 1%.

There’s a name for a consistent unidirectional error in forecasts.

It’s called SYSTEMATIC STATISTICAL BIAS.

So, you gotta wonder: why haven’t the crack statisticians at the BLS noticed the bias and started correcting for it?

Either they’re incompetent, or they’re as biased as they’re data.

Why does it matter?

Because the “headline numbers” each week are calculated by subtracting the advance number — which is consistently understated — from the prior week’s final number — which is consistently raised up.

In other words, there is a consistent bias to report bigger drops in unemployment claims than are real … and in 2 of the past 4 weeks, to report drops in weekly unemployment gains when there were actually increases.

Hmmm.

No wonder the President thinks the private economy is doing fine.

image

>> Latest Posts

Flashback: Why private sector jobs won’t be coming back any time soon

June 5, 2012

The chickens came home to roost last Friday when the BLS had to gulp and (1) revise downward March and April jobs data, and (2) boost their count participants to the job market — the statistical aberration that was making the unemployment rate look like it was going down

Last Friday’s dismal jobs report shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to loyal readers.  As we’ve said often,  CEOs are dismayed by Team Obama’s economic, regulatory and pro-union policies and won’t do any serious hiring while Obama is in power. Period.

For the record, the Homa Files pitched this case over 2 years ago in a post titled: “Why private sector jobs won’t be coming back any time soon … Hint: it’s called passive aggressive resistance” … the punch lines:

Given the Administration’s anti-corporate rhetoric, actions, and proposed game-changing rules, I doubt that many CEOs will be taking on added costs and risks to boost the administration.

More likely, they will let unemployment continue to creep along, and will slow roll the process of rehiring.

Corporate chieftains will sit back and watch the President squirm and spin his “4 million jobs – saved or created”. As Rev. Wright would say “the chickens will have come home to roost”. Passively aggressive resistance at its very best.

Unfortunately, that means we’ll be seeing high unemployment for some time – at least through the 2012 Presidential elections.

The full original post is worth another read !

* * * * *

Ken’s current take:

Certainly there won’t be any meaningful hiring until the 2012. elections are in the book.

CEO heels are dug in. I’ve heard cocktail party chatter like “Each job added is a vote for Obama … Fool me once, shame on you … fool me twice, shame on me”

CEOs started to relent a bit when the Congress tilted GOP and Obama extended the Bush tax cuts. (Whatever happened to Immelt’s job creation task force?)

But, recent moves – e.g. stopping Boeing’s move to South Carolina, stumping again for higher taxes, especially on off-shore profits – have more than offset any momentum.

We’ll be stuck with unemployment in the 8s until 2013 … or until there’s a substantial policy roll-back .

And, the latter just ain’t gonna happen …

>> Latest Posts

Prepping for the jobs report this Friday …

May 3, 2012

A couple of data points …

The BLS weekly new unemployment claims averaged 363,000 in March … they’ve been just short of 390,000 the past couple of weeks.

* * * * *

Challenger  reported an increase in job cuts — vs. last month and vs. same month last year.

U.S.-based employers announced planned job cuts totaling 40,559 during the month of April.

That is a 7.1 percent increase from  job cuts announced in March.

April job cuts were up 11.2 percent from the same month a year ago.

So far this year, employers have announced 183,653 job cuts, 9.8 percent more than the job cuts by this point in 2011.

* * * * *

Gallup’s daily tracking of unemployment has been running between 8.3% and 8.4% for the past week or so.

* * * * *

Yesterday, ADP reported that the private sector added just 119,000 jobs in April

Private-sector employment increased by just 119,000 in April, according a report from ADP that puts a dent into the notion that the jobs market is on the path to a solid recovery.

The report was well below forecasts of 170,000 and comes after a string of stronger numbers.

ADP said service-sector jobs rose by 123,000, but construction fell by 5,000

* * * * *

Let’s see: unemployment claims are up, Gallup says 8.4%, ADP reports a slowing of job growth (below what’s need to keep pace with typical labor market growth).

So, what’ll be the BLS unemployment number?

My bet: the mysterious seasonal adjustments coupled with more discouraged workers no longer looking for work will keep the unemployment rate at 8.2%

We’ll see.

>> Latest Posts

News Flash:Weekly jobless claims drop … say, what?

April 26, 2012

This is getting downright silly …

The first line of this morning’s BLS report on weekly jobless claims says:

In the week ending April 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 388,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 389,000.

Note the last couple of words:  “ … from the previous week’s revised figure”.

Hmmm.

Here’s the way CNBC decoded the report:

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

The prior week’s figure was revised up to 389,000 from the previously reported 386,000.

The four-week moving average for new claims, a closely followed measure of labor market trends, rose 6,250 to 381,750, its highest since the week that ended January 7.

Get it?

Last week, when claims were reported to have gone up, they were understated by 3,000.

Hmm.

Now, last month gets revised upward … and guess what?

This month is lower than last month.

So, Team O has a talking point: jobless claims are down.

They do think we’re stupid …

>> Latest Posts

‘Tis the season …

April 9, 2012

… or more precisely:  ‘tis the seasonality.

For a couple of months, we’ve been pointing out that something smelled fishy about the Fed’s employment reports.

Too much of the good news seemed to be directly tied to statistical tweaks of the the raw data called “seasonal adjustments”.

In fact, the Feds have been goosing the numbers up by more then they used to.

Well, now the Wash Post is even on the case.

The Post article — “Mild winter may have artificially inflated jobs data, economists fear“ —  suggests that we may have been underestimating the effect.

Economists are now saying that the mild winter has artificially inflated job growth.

Translation: The surge in hiring early in the year may not be as strong as it appeared.

The warm weather meant more jobs for construction workers and retail employees.

For economists, it means a statistical nightmare.

Typically, these bumps in demand are evened out through a process called seasonal adjustment.

That allows researchers to compare one month’s economic activity with the next for a more accurate picture of the nation’s health.

But this year’s weather was so abnormal that those models fell short, and economists are now scrambling to figure out how much of the growth over the past three months was simply due to a glitch in their systems.

“When the weather does not follow a normal seasonal pattern, then the seasonal adjustment cannot adjust for it.”

And that may help explain why recent data on jobs have looked rosier than actual economic growth would suggest.

Forecasts for the nation’s gross domestic product during the first quarter hover around 2 percent, a middling number at best.

Somewhere there is a disconnect, and Mother Nature is a valid scapegoat.

The labor market boost from the mild winter will eventually even itself out, though it may mean dips in job growth in coming months

Glad to see the mainstream media catching up with the Homa Files and its loyal readers …

>> Latest Posts

The unemployment rate went down … hmmm.

April 6, 2012

BLS Report says that 120,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were added in March … below February when 240,000 were added.

In February, the unemployment rate remained constant at 8.3% … it dropped in March to 8.2%.

How can that be?

Remember that the jobs growth comes from the “Institutions Survey” and the unemployment rate comes from the “Population Survey”.

From the “Population Survey”, seasonally adjusted employment actually declined by 31,000 – from 142.065 million to 142.034 million. (chart below)

So, how did the unemployment rate go down?

Simple.

The labor force participation rate continued to decline.

In February, 154.871 million were in the labor pool; in March there were 154.707 million … a drop of 164,000. (chart below)

Presto … the unemployment rate goes down.

If only more people were to get sufficiently discouraged that they’d stop looking for work, we’d have this unemployment problem nailed.

* * * * *

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Civilian Employment Level

image

 

Civilian Labor Force Level

image

>> Latest Posts

Cookin’ the books? … 2 numbers to watch when the BLS reports tomorrow.

April 5, 2012

Loyal readers know that I’m a bit skeptical re: the employment numbers that the BLS has been spitting out in recent months.

Two reasons: (1) Unemployment rates are diverging from the Gallup daily surveys, and (2) Seasonal adjustment factors are boosting the employment numbers.

First, the Gallup relationship …

Historically, Gallup’s mid-month unemployment rate has tracked closely to the BLS end-of-month rate.

Not so in February … Gallup reported 8% … BLS reported 8.2%.

Hmmm.

Gallup’s mid-month rate for March was 8.9%.

Let’s see what the BLS says tomorrow.

image

* * * * *

The 2nd number to watch is the the seasonal adjustment adder.

For the prior10 years, the BLS has seasonally adjusted February employment numbers upward by 1.1423%.

Last month, they upped the raw numbers by 1.1688%.

That’s a big difference when floated into the unemployment rate calculation.

The prior 10 year adjustment factor for March has been .6209 %.

If the seasonal adder is higher than that tomorrow … be suspicious.

image

* * * * *

My bet: the unemployment rate will magically hang at 8.3% … .6% below the Gallup number.

>> Latest Posts

The unemployment numbers … digging deeper.

March 12, 2012

The Feds said last Friday that the economy added over 200,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stayed at 8.3%

I’d predicted 8.5% or higher … hmmm.

First, unemployment claims increased in each of the 4 weeks in February

image

That would make you think that the unemployment rate would go up, right?

Not so, using Fed math … the BLS reported that the  seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stayed at 8.3% …

image

But, take a peek at the raw unemployment rate … the one before the Feds adjust for seasonality.

Hmmm.  Looks like the rate has ticked up in the past couple of months … and is now around 8.7%

image

The secret sauce: the seasonal adjustment factors.

I guess a guy doesn’t feel unemployed if he’s unemployed in February  … seasonal unemployment is different.

Really?

Let’s look at the main data series that goes into the unemployment rate: the number of employed people.

Again, the Feds report steady improvement on a seasonally adjusted basis.

image

But,  when the seasonality factors are backed out, actual employment levels have been going down … consistent with the unemployment claims data.

image

Finally,  for fun, let’s match the seasonally adjusted unemployment rates data (which is reported by the Feds) against the raw numbers (which the Fed calculate but don’t shout out).

image

Pretty interesting … says we’re in a period when seasonally adjusting helps the unemployment rate appear more favorable … but when we head into Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov … seasonally adjusting makes the unemployment rate look less favorable.

My next prediction: about mid-summer, the Feds will come out with some cock-and-bull story explaining why they’re going to start report unemployment data that isn’t seasonally adjusted.

And, they’ll say with a straight face that the change in reporting methods has nothing to do with the election.

Yeah, right.

>> Latest Posts

Unemployment: The final nums before tomorrow’s final nums …

March 8, 2012

Tomorrow’s BLS report will be very interesting.

On the plus side: ADP, released their proprietary private payrolls jobs report earlier this week. Its usually – but not always – a good leading indicator of the the BLS nums.

Form February, ADP reported a gain of 216,000 private sector jobs.

Last month (January) 2012 ADP’s final num was 173,000 jobs. In contrast, the BLS reported 257,000 seasonally adjusted private sector jobs for January.

image

On the minus side:

Today, the BLS reported that the number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment benefits rose for the third consecutive week

Initial jobless claims jumped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 362,000 in the week ending March 3.

Most important, Gallup – which nailed the drop to 8.3% last month —  has been consistently reporting an unemployment rate of 9% throughout February.

image

The consensus of economists is that about 200,000 jobs will be reported and that the unemployment rate will hold at  8.3%.

Ken says: seasonally unadjusted jobs will decline, seasonally adjusted jobs will increase less than 200,000 … and the unemployment rate will bump back up to 8.5%

>> Latest Posts

Oops … BLS unemployment report not being released until next Friday.

March 1, 2012

OK, I got a bit a head of myself this week …

The December unemployment report was released on January 6 — the first Friday in January,

The January unemployment report was released on February 3 —  the first Friday in February,

image

So, I assumed that the February unemployment report would be released tomorrow March 2 — the first Friday in March,

Wrong.

The BLS says that The Employment Situation for February will be released next Friday, March 9, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).

My analysis and predictions still hold … a bump up in the rate.

>> Latest Posts

The labor force participation rate … so what?

February 29, 2012

When the Feds release this week’s unemployment data, expect more chatter about the falling labor participation rate … which reflects the increasing number of discouraged people who have stopped looking for work and don’t get counted in the unemployment numbers.

For the 4 years prior to Obama’s inauguration, the labor force participation rate hung pretty steady … at around 66%.

Since Obama took office, that rate has plummeted to 63.7%.

image
image

Let’s try some math skills …

If unemployment is 8.3% with a 63.7% labor force participation rate, what would the unemployment rate be if the participation rate were at the pre-Obama 66%?

Answer: about 11.5%

image

Obama’s economic hope continues to be that more and more people get discouraged — or, just stay on unemployment for the full 99 weeks.

Bingo, down goes the unemployment rate.

>> Latest Posts

In advance of this week’s unemployment report … Gallup up to 9.2%

February 27, 2012

In case you missed it this weekend, Gallup’s daily tracking report put unemployment at 9.2%up from 8.3% in mid-January.

image

The BLS report this Friday will be vey interesting.  Even with more book-cooking via changed methodologies, sample changes, and seasonal adjustments — it’ll be hard to put lipstick on this pig

My prediction: the BLS rate will go from 8.3% to 8.5% …. with a lot smoke re: seasonal adjustments … but  nothing would surprise me now that the bean counters have been politicized.

>> Latest Posts

Re: the unemployment rate … Gallup still hanging at 9% — up from 8.3%.

February 21, 2012

You may remember that the BLS reported a dramatic drop in the unemployment rate for January — down from 8.5% to 8.3%.

image

At the time, we (and many other folks) pointed out that the apparent improvement was largely drive by people leaving the work force, by seasonal adjustments (which were more liberal than prior years), and by a revision in the way that the BLS compiles the numbers.

In other words, smelled like some book-cooking going on.

At the time, we encouraged loyal readers to start watching the Gallup daily tracking of the unemployment rate.  Historically, it has been a pretty good canary in the unemployment coal mine.

Typically, Gallup’s mid-month number is a good predictor of the BLS’s end-of-month number.

Well, the Gallup number has increased dramatically from mid-January to mid-February … from 8.3% (same as the BLS end of January number) … up to 9%, where it has bee hanging.

The number reported by the BLS for February will be very, very interesting …

Based on Gallup, the unemployment rate should surge back up.

Unless, of course, somebody cooks the books …

image

>> Latest Posts

According to Gallup, U.S. unemployment rate is back to up 9% … oops.

February 14, 2012

A couple of weeks ago – when Team Obama was victory lapping over the unemployment rate dropping to 8.3% – we told readers to watch the Gallup daily unemployment surveys as a harbinger of things to come.

Gallup has been saying that the employment numbers in the end of January seemed to be weakening.

Guess what?

After reaching a low of 8.2% in mid-January – consistent with gov’t reporting —  the rate has crept back up to 9%.

Hmmm.

A reverse victory lap in the offering?

 

image

Source: Gallup

>> Latest Posts

Cookin’ the books? … About those pesky seasonal adjustments to the Fed’s employment numbers …

February 9, 2012

Earlier this week, we blogged about the “interesting” difference between Team O’s job gain claim:

The Labor Department reported that the economy gained 243,000 jobs.

But, the BLS  also reported that the economy lost 2,689,000 jobs in the month

The difference in the two numbers is in seasonal adjustment.

Here’s an interesting tidbit that I haven’t seen reported: the January seasonal adjustment factor mysteriously crept up from the factor that was used in January 2011 … with the effect of increasing the number of seasonally adjusted jobs reported.

As Gomer Pyle would say: Surprise, surprise, surprise …

 

image

 

image

Source: BLS

>> Latest Posts