Why Should Bill Have All The Fun?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jobless Claims

Something has been bothering me for a while about the jobless claims reports, so I went back and checked the data. For once, I’m not going to opine. I’m just going to present the numbers, and let you draw your own conclusion. I report, you decide.

UPDATE 5/18/12: I found the last week that claims were not revised upwards. 6/19/11

Week Jobless Claims Headline Revision after 1 week
7/14/12 386,000 Weekly Claims Post Rebound; Jobs Market Still in Doldrums  
7/7/12 350,000 Weekly jobless claims drop sharply to lowest level in four years 352,000
6/30/12 374,000 New unemployment claims drop; key report projects stronger job growth 376,000
6/23/12 386,000 Jobless Claims in U.S. Hovered Last Week Near 2012 High 388,000
6/16/12 387,000 US jobless claims fall, but 4-wk avg at 6-month high 392,000
6/9/12 386,000 Jobless Claims in U.S. Unexpectedly Rose Last Week 389,000
6/2/12 377,000 U.S. jobless claims fall by 12,000 380,000
5/26/12 383,000 Weekly unemployment claims rise modestly 389,000
5/19/12 370,000 U.S. weekly jobless claims dip slightly to 370,000 373,000
5/12/12 370,000 Jobless claims steady; Mid-Atlantic factories sag 372,000
5/5/12 367,000 Jobless claims fall marginally last week 370,000
4/28/12 365,000 Weekly Jobless Claims Ease; Productivity Drops 0.5% 368,000
4/21/12 388,000 Jobless Claims Fall 1K to 388K 392,000
4/14/12 386,000 Jobless claims –2K to 386K 389,000
4/7/12 380,000 Jobless claims unexpectedly rise 388,000
3/31/12 357,000 Jobless claims fall to lowest since 2008 367,000
3/24/12 359,000 US jobless claims fall to 4 year low in latest week 363,000
3/17/12 348,000 US jobless claims at 4 year low, lift recovery hopes 364,000
3/10/12 351,000 Jobless claims back at 4 year lows 353,000
3/3/12 362,000 US Jobless claims rise, but labor market healing 365,000
2/25/12 351,000 Jobless Claims fall by 2,000 to 351,000 354,000
2/18/12 351,000 Jobless claims hold steady at 4-year low 353,000
2/11/12 348,000 Jobs, factory data strengthen growth outlook 351,000
2/4/12 358,000 Jobless claims drop brightens labor market picture 361,000
1/28/12 367,000 Jobless claims fall, jobs market slowly healing 373,000
1/21/12 377,000 Jobless claims rise in latest week 379,000
1/14/12 352,000 US jobless claims near 4 year low 356,000
1/7/12 399,000 US jobless claims rise 402,000
12/31/11 372,000 Private hiring soars 375,000
12/24/11 381,000 -- 387,000
12/17/11 364,000   366,000
12/10/11 366,000   368,000
12/3/11 381,000   385,000
11/26/11 402,000   404,000
11/19/11 393,000   396,000
11/12/11 388,000   391,000
11/5/11 390,000   393,000
10/29/11 397,000   400,000
10/22/11 402,000   406,000
10/15/11 403,000   404,000
10/8/11 404,000   409,000
10/1/11 401,000   405,000
9/24/11 391,000   395,000
9/17/11 423,000   428,000
9/10/11 428,000   432,000
9/3/11 414,000   417,000
8/27/11 409,000   412,000
8/20/11 417,000   421,000
8/13/11 408,000   412,000
8/6/11 395,000   399,000
7/30/11 400,000   402,000
7/23/11 398,000   401,000
7/16/11 418,000   422,000
7/9/11 405,000   408,000
7/2/11 418,000   427,000
6/25/11 428,000   432,000
6/18/11 429,000   429,000

 

Getting too hard to find the articles this far back. But you get the point. Every single jobless claims report this year has been revised upwards the following week. And in just about every case, Reuters headline was either negated by the revision, or proven optimistic the very next week.

Here are the 4 week moving averages, as initially reported, and after revised.

Week Initially reported 4 week average After revision
7/14/12 375,500 --
7/7/12 376,500 377,000
6/30/12 385,750 386,250
6/23/12 386,750 387,250
6/16/12 386,250 387,500
6/9/12 382,000 382,750
6/2/12 377,750 378,500
5/26/12 374,500 376,000
5/19/12 370,000 370,750
5/12/12 375,000 375,500
5/5/12 379,000 379,750
4/28/12 383,500 384,250
4/21/12 383,000 384,000
4/14/12 376,000 376,750
4/7/12 368,500 370,500
3/31/12 359,250 361,750
3/24/12 360,250 361,250
3/17/12 355,000 359,000
3/10/12 355,750 356,250
3/3/12 355,000 355,750
2/25/12 354,000 354,750
2/18/12 359,000 359,750
2/11/12 365,250 366,000
2/4/12 367,750 368,500
1/28/12 376,000 377,500
1/21/12 377,500 378,000
1/14/12 379,000 380,000
1/7/12 381,750 382,500
12/31/11 373,250 374,000
12/24/11 375,000 376,000
12/17/11 380,250 380,750
12/10/11 387,750 388,250
12/3/11 393,000 394,000
11/26/11 395,500 396,000
11/19/11 394,250 395,000
11/12/11 396,750 397,500
11/5/11 400,000 400,750
10/29/11 404,000 404,750
10/22/11 405,000 406,000
10/15/11 403,000 403,250
10/8/11 408,000 409,250
10/1/11 414,000 415,000
9/24/11 417,000 418,000
9/17/11 421,000 422,250
9/10/11 419,500 420,500
9/3/11 414,750 415,500
8/27/11 410,250 411,000
8/20/11 407,500 408,500
8/13/11 402,500 403,500
8/6/11 405,000 406,000
7/30/11 407,750 408,250
7/23/11 413,750 414,500
7/16/11 421,250 422,250
7/9/11 423,250 424,000

 

The short? Jobless claims are lower than they were at the beginning of the year, but the rolling average has been trending the wrong way for the last several weeks. Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that from the Reuters reports, would you?

UPDATE: Added new data from week of 4/14 on 4/19

UPDATE: Added new data from week of 4/21 on 4/26. Also, you may notice that my 4 week rolling averages are slightly different than the released averages. Why? Because I actually take a 4 week average of the released numbers. Imagine that. BLS seasonally adjusts the averages. Of course, the numbers themselves are seasonally adjusted, so doing a second seasonal adjustment after averaging seems like fudging the data to me, but YMMV.

UPDATE 5/3: Added new data from week of 4/28. Big drop this week. But rolling average still going up. And last week’s revised upwards. Again.

I’ve been meaning to include this for the last couple of weeks. This is from ZeroHedge, who noticed not only the upward revisions, but their size:

Times Three: That's How Much The BLS Upwardly Fudges Data During An Election Year

Indeed, the most recent revision was the fourth largest on record.  If one only read the headlines this year (at such blogs that specialize in architectural billings, deliveries by canoe, and what not), one would have the impression that Initial Claims have fallen nearly 25,000 this year.  The revised reality? Barely over 10,000.  And that’s a 10,000 improvement against a number that has been revised upward by 50,000.  So, yeah.

Stay tuned for next week’s update.

UPDATE 5/10: SSDD. At least the 4 week rolling average went down this week. That’s the only silver lining in this week’s report. Well, I suppose there’s one more. This is two weeks in a row we’ve been in the 365k-370k range, a decent improvement from 380k-390k, which is where we were the previous month.

UPDATE 5/17: Repeat of last week. Again, the 4 week average dropped a bit. But it’s still a good 15-20K higher than it was two months ago. And that’s still not good.

UPDATE 5/18: I added a lot more rows to the tables. Last week claims were not revised upwards was 6/19/11. Initial report for that week was 429,000. After revision, 429,000. You’ll notice that it still wasn’t revised downwards. Average revision in the 46 weeks since then: ~+4,000 (3,978.26).

UPDATE 5/24: Ditto on my update of 5/17.

UPDATE 5/31: 48 weeks in a row. Also, a rather large jump over the last month. The last report in April is 365,000. Last report in May is 383,000. And the 4 week rolling average ended it’s three week run of dips.

UPDATE 6/7: 49 weeks in a row. Pretty big upward revision too. Starting next week, the Department of Labor is making some disturbing changes to the way this information is disseminated. But, I’m sure it’s entirely innocent.

Update 6/14: 50 weeks in a row.

Update 6/21: 51 weeks in a row. Oh, and the DoL has decided not to change their rules on publishing their information. For the time being.

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