Bureau of Labor Statistics
A few days ago we showed what happens when the Bureau of Labor Statistics is caught in a blatant lie. And while we exposed the difference between the NFP and the JOLTS data series, which in some ways are the "stock" effect of labor, it meant that the BLS also had to adjust its "flow" component: the initial weekly claims. Lo and behold, moments ago the DOL just reported last week's initial claims, which printed at a ridiculous 292K, 38K below expectations and the lowest level since April 2006, down from last week's 323K. On the surface great news. The problem once again is that this was a bold faced lie. Only this time even the BLS admitted as much:
- LABOR SAYS CLAIMS DROP DUE TO COMPUTER UPGRADES IN TWO STATES
- LABOR SAYS FAULTY REPORTING BY STATES RESPONSIBLE FOR DROP
Specifically, a larger state and a smaller one that retooled their computer networks still provided the Labor Department with applications counts. Furthermore, the BLS also said that the decrease in filings probably didn’t signal a change in labor-market conditions. In other words, the number is garbage, and the BLS knows the reporting is faulty, but let's go ahead and report it anyway.
Spot the outlier...
The magic was the magnificent illusion that money printing increased wealth. It certainly looked that way, despite all the common-sense interpretation that would have you believe that it doesn't. But that's the beauty of a wonderfully performed magic trick. Something impossible seems to happen. You know it can't happen, but it looks like it did, and what's the harm in letting yourself believe? Assuming that the goal is reducing unemployment... it really was a wonderful 50 years. Pumping out money increased the labor force participation rate from about 59% in 1960 to 67% by about 2000 by creating jobs in military procurement, lobbying, and (as we went through successive bubbles) brokerages and finance, government, home construction, real estate sales, retail, etc. Now the losses in manufacturing and primary wealth creation are overwhelming the jobs created in the FIRE economy, and the US looks to be heading back to the golden era of the 50s, with labor force participation back below 60%. Too bad they'll all be low-paying jobs.
Here’s another depressing list to ruin your day. You can tell a lot about a society by what they value, what they build and what they do. The only new buildings we see being built are banks and medical facilities. That tells us a lot. We look around and see that we value fancy new leased or financed cars, financed McMansions, fastfood, and lots of shopping outlets. And now this list tells us a lot about where this country is headed. Among the ten fastest growing jobs in America, only one can be considered well paying. Only two of the jobs are in industries that produce something. Only one requires a non-liberal arts college degree. Most of the jobs barely pay a living wage. Most of these jobs are non-essential service jobs that add absolutely nothing to society. A society that does not produce is destined to decline. We’re doomed. Based on the list below, we would describe the United States as a service based nation of aging, vain, obese, shallow, financially illiterate boobs with bad skin and muscle aches, who love sports and entertainment, but can’t understand each other, and are addicted to their oil based suburban sprawl debt financed lifestyles.
A month ago we reported that US fast food workers in several US cities, namely New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Mo., and Flint, Mich., walked out Monday in a one-day strike demanding a doubling of their pay. Not unexpectedly, even though the president himself has been a strong proponent of rising the minimum wage, the corporations balked and the strikers achieved nothing and just in case there is some confusion, there is a lot of minimum skills, minimum wage applicants (not to mention robots) out there which translates into two words for the strikers: no leverage. However, these concepts may be foreign to a fast-food labor force that probably just wants a day out in the nice weather and to take a break from hard work for a change.
Albert Einstein, a man who knew a thing or two about celestial mechanics, supposedly once called compound interest "the most powerful force in the universe." While the remark was likely meant to be funny (astrophysicists can be hilarious), it sheds light on the often overlooked fact that small changes, over time, can yield enormous results. The same phenomenon may be at work in our economy. A minor, but persistent under-bias in the inflation gauge used in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) may have created a wildly distorted picture of our economic health. So the next time you see a GDP report remind yourself that the "deflator" should really be called the "distractor." It's there to distract you from the truth.
During the NBC Nightly News segment last week about one of the unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Lisa Myers reported speaking with "almost 20 small businesses and other entities around the country" and that "almost all said that because of the new law, they’d be cutting back hours for some employees." But the Obama administration doesn’t see why there’s such a fuss. According to Myers: The White House dismisses these examples as “anecdotal.” The president’s top economic advisor [CEA Chair Jason Furman] told us “he sees no systematic evidence the health care law is having an adverse impact on the number of hours employees are working.” So, should we take our government’s word and dismiss the examples as anecdotal?
Numbers, Numbers Everywhere...are any true?
So let's pretend for the moment that the Federal Reserve gets everything it has stated it wants. And even further: that Washington, D.C. gets everything it wants, too. The credit markets are repaired, and massive new loan growth flows out the door. Loans are made to businesses that hire gobs of new people. Consumers borrow and borrow some more to go to school and buy homes, cars, and gadgets. Inflation remains low and job growth explodes. Tax receipts climb and the deficit falls. The stock market goes higher and higher, gold falls and then falls some more, as confidence in the system, its masters, and its institutions grows. The Fed wins and D.C. wins. But in reality, we all lose. It's all just a matter of timing (and un-sustainability).
The housing market. It would be the done-thing normally to imagine that one might learn from mistakes that have been made in the past; and not only learn from them, but make sure that they don’t happen again.
So is President Obama the worst President in history?
For the first time in 2016 according to estimates, the US will not be the most economically-powerful country in the world, but the second since World War II.
In April, according to JOLTS, there were 108K job additions. According to the NFP data, the job gain was 199K or 84% more than per JOLTS
In May, according to JOLTS, there were 109K jobs additions. According to the NFP data, the job gain was 176K or 62% more than per JOLTS
In June, according to JOLTS, there were 120K jobs additions. According to the NFP data, the job gain was 188K or 57% more than per JOLTS
Adding across for all of 2013, JOLTS would have us know that only 837K jobs were added (or 140K per month average). Compare this to the 1,185K new jobs according to the Establishment Survey (198K per month average).
-> A 42% difference!
Bullish on one, no so much on the other.
The media, the financial markets and investors have become fixated on the unemployment rate, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, particularly since it was directly linked by the Federal Reserve to its current bond buying program. What is clearly evident is that, despite the headline reports, there is clearly an alarming divergence in employment from the long-term trend. The structural shift in employment away from manufacturing and production to a service and outsourced based economy has clearly created a deviation that will not likely be corrected for decades to come. The implications for the Federal Reserve, and the economy, should be concerning. While the hope is that the economy will suddenly spark back towards stronger growth; the supply/demand imbalance suggests otherwise.