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Just How Bad Is This Week's Unemployment Claims Data? Not Bad At All

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Just How Bad Is This Week's Unemployment Claims Data? Not Bad At All

Courtesy of Lee Adler of the Wall Street Examiner

The mainstream media today reported an increase in initial jobless claims this week to 380,000, an increase of 13,000. This was another huge miss for the consensus of conomists, where the central tendency of expectations was for 359,000 initial claims. The conomic establishment continues to prove its worth week in and week out. The question is whether these people are just clueless or willing instruments of the Wall Street distribution machine. I'll leave that for you to decide. The issue today is whether the number of claims is anything unusual. Does it represent a sign that the economy is weakening?

The media and conomic pundits report claims on a seasonally adjusted basis. That is a fictional number designed to eliminate normal seasonal patterns in the data in order to represent an abstract impressionistic version of a smooth curve for consumption by the masses, which the conomic establishment assumes is too stupid to understand real data. It's a very strange device because it is a simple matter to compare the current performance of the actual number, in other words "reality" with the reality of the same week in past years.

The Labor Department (DOL) does publish the actual number. This is not a survey sample, but an actual compilation of the actual weekly claims, which each of the 50 states submits to the DOL. The DOL warns in the weekly release that the current number is an advance number. The fact that the number is revised up every week is simply a matter of the fact that the initial count is not complete. This is not a survey, and not a sample. It is the actual number reported by the 50 states. The number reported next week will be the final number for this week. The DOL is very clear about this. It reports in today's press release that, "The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 381,875 in the week ending April 7, an increase of 62,530 from the previous week. There were 448,029 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011." Highlighting is mine.

Can it be any clearer? The DOL spoon feeds this data to the media and the conomic establishment, and they completely ignore the facts. Rupert the Hacker's Wall Street Urinal posts an article claiming to be mystified by the weekly upward revision, when this is a normal part of the process. The number is revised up by 3-4,000 every week. Downward revisions are extremely rare, in fact, they almost never occur. The circumstances would have to involve a larger error in a large state submission. It just doesn't happen under normal circumstances.

The advance number for actual claims is down by 66,154 or 14.7% since last year. The total number of claims will be revised up next week, so that in the end the difference will be closer to 60,000 or something on the order of 14%. There are many reasons for the drop and you can find negative arguments, such as that fewer workers are eligible to file claims (not true), but the fact is that far fewer people are losing jobs this year. New claims this week as were 0.29% (29 hundredths of a percent) of current total nonfarm payrolls. In the same week last year they were 0.34% (34 hundredths of a percent). So the decline in claims is not a matter of fewer people being eligible. A smaller percentage of the eligible are filing claims. Fewer people are losing jobs.

The weekly jump of 62,530 was a big number, but this is part of a normal seasonal pattern. Last year in the same week the increase was 94,212. In 2010 it was 93,631. By the standard of the last 2 years, when the economy was in its initial rebound off the depression low, this year's number is an improvement. It is not as good as during the bubble years from 2003 to 2007 when the gain during this week ranged from 40,000 to 60,000, but it's not a bad number by recent standards.

Wall Street would love to see an excuse for the Fed to do more printing and market propping, so its conomic mouthpieces have ginned up a phony consensus estimate of a phony construct, the seasonally adjusted number, to give the market an excuse to sell off. The players strapped on the dynamite vests and walked into the Eccles Building with their thumbs on the dead man switch, all based on the lie that this week's number was a bad sign.

Here is a chart of the actual data.

Initial Unemployment Claims Chart - Click to enlarge

Initial Unemployment Claims Chart - Click to enlarge

That is a picture of the facts, and the fact is that the current level of claims is right on trend with the trend of the past 2 years. There's plenty of variance week to week, but the trend has been stable, with weekly year to year change ranging from 5% to 20% since mid 2010. This week's number is completely consistent with the trend. People can argue with that all they want, but they'd be arguing with the facts. Many people will start with the argument that the DOL is lying every week. That's a personal choice that everyone is free to make. In my study of a variety of data, I look for logical inconsistencies, and I'm satisfied that the DOL data is reasonably accurate.

The greater problem as I see it, is that people reading the mainstream media and listening to the conomic establishment, are unknowingly being engaged in fiction, and that makes it completely impossible to get at the facts. When you look at what's real, instead of the seasonally adjusted nonsense and the conomists ridiculous interpretations of it, it's absolutely clear that there's no sign, no hint, not a scintilla of evidence, in this data, that the economy is weakening.

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© Copyright 2012, The Wall Street Examiner Company Inc. All rights reserved.

 


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Sat, 04/14/2012 - 07:43 | Link to Comment overmedicatedun...
overmedicatedundersexed's picture

this economy sucks unless you are the .01%..energy demand is falling off a cliff..yet retail prices are higher (gas and oil-food). looking for rainbows by the authors is mental masturbation. GDP used to tell the tale never a mention these days (I know his little fiction was not about GDP)

Sat, 04/14/2012 - 22:24 | Link to Comment WhiteNight123129
WhiteNight123129's picture

The point is that it sucks as much as no improvement, noweakening.

 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:13 | Link to Comment Printfaster
Printfaster's picture

There is one bright spot in the economy:  Obamacare

In our area, there is not one major hospital that does not have a large construction project for expansion.  All of the hospitals have initiated major hiring for computer specialists to deal with the database and security changes and upgrades mandated by Obamacare.  Ross Perot would be so proud.  His dream come true.

Other than that?  Better rush hour traffic.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:13 | Link to Comment Northeaster
Northeaster's picture

This has been one of the best discussion/analysis post in almost a year.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 12:47 | Link to Comment Mercury
Mercury's picture

Yes, I thought Mr. Adler aquitted himself quite well and made a decent case (based on his own, pimary source research - imagine that!).

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:05 | Link to Comment RoadKill
RoadKill's picture

Good to see the other side for once...

But as an investor I dont care about improving or getting worse vs last year. I care about vs expectations and the trend line of concensus beats and misses.

Fact is economic data has gone from consistantly beating to consistantly missing. That will compress multiples.

The problem the mkt has is that valuations on TTM earningsgot back to "normal" but normal multiples are based on 3-4% GDP growth and corporate profits as a % of GDP going from 5% to 8%. The appropriate multiple is 2% GDP growth and corporate margins rolling. Analyst forward estimates ARE TOO HIGH!

SO LETS PUT A 10X MULT ON TTM EARNINGS AND SPX COMES OUT AT 1,0000.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:02 | Link to Comment Everybodys All ...
Everybodys All American's picture

The payroll data has been great for weeks as everyone now is either unemployed or under-employed. In addition though look at the actual jobs these people who have gotten jobs and what their take home pay is compared to their prior job and you will find these people are severly impaired.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:33 | Link to Comment mrpxsytin
mrpxsytin's picture

Just wondering how much of this is due to people simply 'dropping off the grid'? Why bother claiming unemployment when you're busy working the land around your self-sufficient homestead? Is there even a metric for that behaviour?

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:02 | Link to Comment boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

Not much, but what it does have to do with is that once you have collected benefits and get reemployed, even for a short time, you cannot go back on benefits when you lose that job.  A lot of people are in that boat. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:57 | Link to Comment boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

"...it's absolutely clear that there's no sign, no hint, not a scintilla of evidence, in this data, that the economy is weakening."

 

If you can't see that the economy is weakening you are not trying very hard to find it.  That vast, and I mean really biblical sums, of money are being created out of thin air and pumped into the American and EU economies just to keep them at a sort of plateau, to staunch the freefall they were in, that is as we all know not sustainable. 

What you are saying is a lot like Mr. Astor looking at the clock over the first class parlor stairs on the Titanic after hitting the iceberg and saying because it is still accurate the ship isn't sinking.  Let the band strike up a dance tune and let's hear no more bother about an unsinkable ship going down, dance everyone and champagne for all. 

So, Mr. Astor, how is that denial thingy working out for you?

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:58 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

Pretty good. I haven't been short the market for any significant periods since April 2009. Dipped by toe in a couple times and the barracudas bit it off. So now I'm missing a big toe and am a lot more cautious about turning bearish. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:33 | Link to Comment mrpxsytin
mrpxsytin's picture

double post

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:23 | Link to Comment adr
adr's picture

Less people are claiming unemployment because there are far less people working now than 2011, 2010, etc.

As for your assertion that it is untrue that less people are filing because less people are eligible for claims. I don't know where you came up with that. Most people know that they aren't eligible for unemployment when they lose a part time $8 an hour job after two months. Have you been to an unemployment office recently? Only the most determined will try to wait through the five hour line to get a lousy couple hundred bucks a week.

Over 60% of the new jobs over the past year have been part time jobs going to people over the age of 60. Ask yourself this question:

When in the history of our country have the majority of job gains gone to a labor segment of workers above the age of 60?

You can get bck to me after the reality of that sets in. Does that statistic represent a healthy economy?

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:08 | Link to Comment rwe2late
rwe2late's picture

 You are correct that the initial new claims count can be very misleading as to the employment pecture.

New entrants into the labor market (school graduates, etc.), those who were self-employed, and those with scanty (official) work histories may choose to never file a claim.

Those collecting unemployment insurance are required to file a (transitional) new "initial" claim at the end of their original benefit year, and often every calendar quarter thereafter. That may inflate or distort the total of apparent "new" filers for benefits.

The sum total of ALL weekly continued claims, regardless of program, would indicate how many people are attempting to collect unemployment insurance for any given week or time period.

The true employment picture requires the use of other than UI data, as I have posted.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 13:21 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

I came up with it by dividing claims by the total nonfarm payrolls, which is the best proxy for covered employment. That percentage is lower this year, than last. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:54 | Link to Comment boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

When you have no money coming in at all a couple hundred a week is a lot better than nothing, but I think we get your point.  I had a pal that was on unemployment for years and was within a few weeks of the end of his emergency benefits when he finally "found" a job (more like bit the bullet and lowered his expectations) in a gas station.  Of course the difference in pay from his former job was about half, and he stuck with it for about 7 months, but he kept hearing about how things in the economy are finally looking up for the first time since the start of the Second Great Depression and he used an excuse to leave that job.  Problem was that the labor market is not better, it might not be getting worse for the moment, but it is also not getting better.  And also that unemployment rules say you cannot return to work for just a few months and then get right back on the dole for a few more years. 

He is now getting three to four hours a day flipping burgers at Burger King for minimum wage.  Add to the misery, his "husband" who has worked as a meat cutter for about 15 years has been cut back in hours and the store is making noises about termination and cutbacks.  Adjusted for inflation (the real kind not the slippery mythical kind the BLS reports) their combined household income is under half what it was at the start of 2009. 

I also know that in several states like Oregon where I am the unemployment RATE dropped below 8.8% last month, not because people were getting new jobs, but because they aged off the roles having used all 99 weeks or whatever of benefits.  Because the state dropped below that 8.8% threshold for federal emergency extension of benefits many thousands of unemployed were suddenly and with no notice dropped from the rolls.  In fact, about 40% of people on unemployment here in January simply stopped getting checks without ANY notice by today.  And they wonder why there has been a sharp rise in gun crimes, and murder suicide cases (4 so far this year) compared to 4 in the last 25 years. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:49 | Link to Comment SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

"When you look at what's real,"

Here's the problem Lee and Ilene - you're ASSUMING that we can do this from the officially reported statistics.

http://www.shadowstats.com/ - is one alternate picture.  The reference below to Mish talking about dropping insurance coverage among those still employed another.  The actual employed portion of the workforce is still down 5 MILLION since it's peak in 2007, which you point out below is devastating Lee.  You can talk all you want about the trend of unemployment claims - with so many dropped off the other side of that equation, what does your analysis say?  Certainly NOT that there's no evidence that economy is weak.  Ilene says there's no evidence that the economy is weakening, but there certainly is plenty of evidence that the US economy is HORRIBLY weak and getting no better.

Ilene, your conclusion is truly misleading.  And by the way Leed, my comment has nothing whatsoever to do with me 'hating the messenger' - so enough with that already!  Let's talk about the REAL, comprehensive, multi-sourced (and not all official!) undiluted message - the real story - US economic reality.

 

 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:00 | Link to Comment rwe2late
rwe2late's picture

 the exact quote was "in this data" there is no evidence,

NOT that no evidence exists anywhere else.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:12 | Link to Comment SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

Ilene's exact comment: "I see no evidence that the economy is weakening." Now given it's connected with Lee's article, I guess we can presume, she meant what you say, but that's not what she said.  As I say elsewhere perhaps our discussion needs to revolve around 'weakness' vs. 'weakening'.  I still think what Ilene says is disingenuous when looking at the broader economy, and certainly when thinking about general weakness, of which there is plenty.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 12:50 | Link to Comment ilene
ilene's picture

"I see no evidence that the economy is weakening" - didn't mean to be impercise with that quote, thought it was representative of the article.  I am not optimistic in general about our economy in the long run - but that doesn't mean that we wouldn't have periods where the economic data doesn't look that bad.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:19 | Link to Comment rwe2late
rwe2late's picture

 The last sentence of the article states "in this data".

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:35 | Link to Comment SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

Lee's comments are clearer.  Ilene's summary is misleading even to the article itself, let alone economic reality.  Also, Lee could have made a quick 10 word reference to overall US employment still being very troubling, as he's done in some of his other work, to balance out this article.  Alas, I don't think this article has found its intended audience here!  It's for those who still care about the casino stock markets.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:53 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

Full time employment is down by 9 million since 2007, but the trend since 2009 has been up, along with the stock market trend. I'm a stock market analyst. That's my job. I'm looking for correlations between the economic data and the market. Some of those correlations are useful. Some aren't. 

I said that the claims data shows no evidence of economic weakness. If you want to argue other data points that's fine, but that was not the point of the article. The claims data is good hard data that is consistent with the tax data for recent weeks, and it shows no evidence of economic weakening. 

 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:40 | Link to Comment rwe2late
rwe2late's picture

 A good picture of the employment situation should include:

1) Demographics ages 18-21, 22-65, and over 65, present and past for comparison

and within those demographics:

2) P-T vs. F-T

3) wage rates

4) institutionalized, millions imprisoned

5) military employment

6) "undocumented" workers 

All above info more or less available (mostly less).

There is also a question as to whether employing a higher percentage of the potential labor pool is necessarily a good thing, if it involves less parenting for children, less familial home care for the infirm, less attendance at school, a larger military and Homeland police force,  and

does little or nothing to correct the wide discrepancy in income distribution and concomitant political power.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:04 | Link to Comment SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

"If you want to argue other data points that's fine, but that was not the point of the article."

OK, it may not be the point of your article, but the headline conclusion since it's only about claims themselves, is therefore a very limited one then the broader context that we deal with here.  Further, I addressed my comments to Lee and Ilene - and Ilene's comment was that there are 'no evidence that the economy is weakening', which is also very narrow and not helpful to the broader context here.  There have been 70% misses in the US economic data in just 2 months (and that's official prints) - I mean, shall we discuss the reality of that Ilene?  So perhaps the qualming is between 'weakening' and WEAKENSS - of which there is plenty, and no goosed up stock market, or stock analyst can tell Mr. and Mrs. Main Street any differently.

While we're at it Lee, and since you're a stock market analyst, perhaps you can speculate on why the US retail investor continues to flee this casino US stock market.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:18 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

"Misses" are a ginned up fallacy based on the fallacy of conomists's expectations. They are useful in that if you can predict the direction of the data by tracking the actuals, then you can often successfully fade the market reaction. They aren't useful in understanding the trend. 

Why the retail investor is fleeing is self evident. The market is rigged and retail investors don't trust it, but mostly they are fleeing because they just need the cash. They can't generate income from their investments thanks to ZIRP and Bernankecide, so the liquidate their 401Ks and IRAs and other holdings each month. That's been going on for a couple of years and it hasn't stopped the market from rising.

I track it. It's an interesting datapoint, but it's secondary to my tracking of the Fed, the Treasury, the ECB and other foreign central banks, the Primary Dealers, and the bank bank prop desks. I want to know what the owners of the casino and their bankers are doing. The players are of secondary interest, but mostly I want to understand how the House is approaching things, not the poor schleppers having their money extracted at the tables.  

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:41 | Link to Comment SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

"I want to know what the owners of the casino and their bankers are doing."

So ultimately Lee would you say your work is to expose the casino, or is it more mundane, as in tracking the casino?  That casino has and will to greater degrees going forward assist in the ruination of millions of lives...

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:55 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

My work has always been to expose and to track. By tracking the criminals, you expose their activity. No one is going to stop them, but eventually they will steal and blunder their way into destroying the economic structure they are skimming from. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:37 | Link to Comment adr
adr's picture

I've seen a casino without players, it doesn't look pretty. There are a couple in Detroit and one in Pittsburgh. I also remember going to Vegas and seeing table after empty table. I sat at a Blackjack table and gambled away $20 for fun, I was instantly approached and asked if I was staying in the hotel. My room was upgraded and I was given a free dinner. Both which cost the owner more thanthe $20 I gambled away.

A free market without players is a desperate, grovelling mess.

The Wall Street casino is very easy to decipher. There is only one player left and every casino owner is desperatley begging him to come to his place and play. This player has an Amex Black card and goes straight to the High Limit room and gambles away $100k on every bet. He never wins and just keeps on racking up debt. But while he is there the casino uses his cash to throw lavish parties for the player and book even more amazing acts, in the hopes it will bring other players back.

When the Fed leaves the casino the party is over and the owner stares straight at looming bankruptcy. In a desperate bid to keep the last player playing, the owner forgot about the infrastructure of his casino, now falling apart, and focused on the party of Aapl $1000 instead.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:36 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

The states submit their actual numbers to the DOL's Employment and Training Administration each week. That Agency compiles the numbers, not the BLS. The BLS conducts the monthly household and establishment surveys for the monthly releases on payrolls and the unemployment rates. These are tiny sample surveys with lots of massaging. The ETA data is comprised of the actual numbers, which are updated to the final tally in the week after the initial collection and release. It's much better data than the BLS data, but it only represents job losses, not hiring, so it's only half the story.

I also track the continuing claims, including both the state claims and the Federal extended and emergency benefits. They're also in a bullish trend but that data is more problematic because there's no way to determine how much of the drop in conttinuing claims is due to exhaustion of benefits. We all know that millions of people are falling through the cracks. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:21 | Link to Comment TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Hey, ADLER...

 

1)   When are you going to give a steadily declining labor market participation rate the attention it deserves when ruminating on alleged improving jobs data?

2)  When are you going to analyze the soundness/integrity of the methodology of BLS 'seasonal adjustments' and its possible affects on monthly NFP data, especially the seasonal adjustment as it may have pertained to, and been a derivative of, the taken-into-account census bureau data (of the once in a decade kind) incorporated the January NFP report?

Here's a pretty good starting point for the skeptical amongst us (of the BLS data), that I believe lays out a great and efficient case that there almost certainly is serious flaws in BLS data that renders it not only suspect, but dangerously misleading.

Wow! 243,000 New Jobs Created in January

Thanks, ADLER.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:21 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

Instead of screaming at me about issues I have already addressed in depth, please read my last article posted here on the jobs data. Seasonally adjusted data is worthless in my view, and I pay no attentio to it whatsoever. 

 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:44 | Link to Comment TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

How can you not pay any attention to seasonally adjusted data given that it's a key component of the 'plug and play' variety that the BLS uses when calculating U3 (in many past months, job creation according to the BLS' methodology would be far lower and even negative without relying upon this critical variable), and when opining that the employment growth data is - I believe you said something along the lines of "fairly robust" - since the bottom in 2008?

Haven't seasonal adjustments of the NFP data been a necessary element of allowing the BLS to arrive at its monthly NFP reports?

Have you come out with a model of measuring employment that is inherently better than the BLS?

You can't be serious? This is a late April Fool's joke, right?

Are you saying that the BLS data should be ignored since such a key element of its methodology is "worthless?"

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:51 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

The seasonally adjusted data is fake. I track the actual, not seasonally adjusted data. It is possible to estimate the degree and direction of the consensus miss of the SA data and fade the reaction, or trade in advance of the estimated reaction. If you're a day trader, the SA data could be useful in that regard, but that's a stretch for most people. The NSA data is the actual. I always focus my analysis on the actual, rather than the statistically massaged.  

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:06 | Link to Comment TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Okay, I'll ask you again, in slightly different terms (hoping to get an actual answer that's responsive to the question):

 

So, the BLS U3 NFP data is flawed to the point of producing erroneous employment numbers?

 

p.s. - You're digging yourself quite a deep hole, here, especially by going to your 'day trading' well now, out of necessity.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 13:18 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

The BLS numbers have nothing to do with the ETA claims numbers. They are different agencies measuring different things using different methodologies. The BLS tries to estimate total employment and unemployment via small monthly sample surveys. The ETA counts actual claims on a weekly basis. In both cases, the actual not seasonally adjusted data is useful. The claims data is more accurate than the BLS survey data.  

The seasonally adjusted data dervived from the actual data by applying predetermined multipliers is fictional, and not helpful. The BLS unadjusted data is closer to reality than the SA data. There is sampling error in both surveys, but the SA data adds the additional problem of preventing an idealized version of a smoothed curve as if it's actual. The BLS publishes both data sets. The media and Wall Street choose to focus only on the SA data and make that the headline number. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:44 | Link to Comment SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

"I also track the continuing claims"

Remember the government and many economists all too rosy picture of the economy (Ilene here says she sees 'no evidence that the economy is weakening' - but what about evidence that's it's still massively weak and hardly improving) that those who've dropped off unemployment benefits somehow all don't want to work?

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:45 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

Nope. Not assuming anything of the kind. I said why I don't like the claims data. I also reported extensively on the problem of the employed/population ratio. Why don't you read that before making assumptions about what I think. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:52 | Link to Comment SeattleBruce
SeattleBruce's picture

You'll notice I revised my comment - after readying your other comments below.  However, just look at your headline "Just How Bad Is This Week's Unemployment Claims Data?  Not Bad At All", and the fact that you don't reference overall employment in your article - why not?  Surely unemployment claims don't live in some kind of vacuum, right?

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:11 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

I wrote a long piece about the jobs data last week. I was heavily flamed about that one too. It's here on ZH and on my website

I try to cover as many of these economic data points as possible. They are interesting as context and I post the articles for free to give you a peek into my analytical approach, but they are not central to my work, which is geared primarily toward liquidity analysis and cyclical analysis. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 09:30 | Link to Comment Chappy
Chappy's picture

Is it a fact or not that the BLS number is preliminary since all the states have not sent in final numbers and this is the reason the number is revised higher each week?  Tyler makes it sound like a big conspiracy. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:23 | Link to Comment Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden's picture

The argument that the data is preliminary and thus any additional data is only additive immediately breaks down when one considers that despite what the author claims, the facts are quite different and there were quite numerous downward revisions historically, thereby rendering the entire analysis moot.

Furthermore, virtually all government data, which is based on preliminary estimates, be they direct fed or sampled, has revision distributions that have a stiatical distribution around a mean, except for claims and other jobs related BLS data.

In other words, good theory. But wrong.

Finally, the claims data is only used for kneejerk algo reactions, and hardly ever to predict NFP and other macro data. As such the persistant upward bias only serves to push the market higher as no algo cares about a prior week's revision.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:32 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

I counted approximately 59 downward revsions out of approximately 520 datapoints. That's rare. The fact that the vast majority of revisions are upward is for the reason I stated. The initial data is not complete. The fact that 12% of the revisions were downward doesn't change that. I've been tracking this data since the end of the chart above, and the downward revisions were few and far between. There's no government conspiracy here, just an artifact of how the data is compiled.

On the other hand I do believe that the monthly BLS data is heavily massaged, but the weekly claims data is not. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 10:38 | Link to Comment Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden's picture

All preliminary data is be definition not complete. Virtually all preliminary data, upon revision, follows a Poisson curve distribution to a final number. Except for claims. Also noted, the primary reason for the Claims data is to goose markets higher. Which perpetually upward biased data does. As for the revisions, the facts speak for themselves. You of course, are entitled to your opinion as to how this data is compiled and where it comes from. We however focus on the outcome.  As for the no conspiracy anywhere claims...

The U.S. Department of Labor announced on Wednesday it plans to tighten its rules for the media to prevent leaks of the monthly jobs numbers.

 

The department will supply standard equipment to journalists in press "lock-ups" and will not allow company-owned computers or phones to be used.

 

Under the new rules there will also be no wireless access. Pens and pencils will be supplied and no personal gear, umbrellas or bags will be allowed.

 

In a press release, the Labor Department detailed the procedure for applying to participate in its upcoming press lock-ups, which will occur in a space that can accommodate between 20 and 30 journalists.

 

Interested journalists have until April 23 to submit requests.

 

Organizations will be notified by May 7 as to whether they have been selected for the lock-ups. Once an organization is approved, its representatives will be invited to a mandatory orientation, which will include hands-on demonstration and testing.

 

The lock-up credentials will be valid beginning on July 6.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:05 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

 

I spoke to a government bureaucrat in the agency that releases this data and got direct confirmation that my "theory" was in fact the reason for the preponderance of upward revisions. But I guess he was lying too. All government bureaucrats are liars. All are part of the vast conspiracy and web of lies. There's never any truth in any government data.

If so, why are 88% of the revisions upward? Because they want the data to look better on the initial release than it really is 88% of the time? OK. I see that point. But in my work I have to make judgments about what's true and what isn't. In that context, I have made the judgment that the reason for the preponderance of upward revisions is that the data is incomplete in the initial weekly collection of that data. Sometimes there are errors, and 12% of the time they result in downward revision. 88% of the time the revision is upward because not all of the data was collected in full for the advance estimate. 

That's the way I see it. I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to express and support my point of view. You guys provide an essential service, not just for investors, but for humanity, and I thank you for that especially. Even though I disagree with you sometimes, you are on the right side of this fight for truth, justice, and the American way!  

We are all in this together. Now I must get back to work! I have enjoyed the discussion. Godspeed!

 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:13 | Link to Comment TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

WTF?

I spoke to a government bureaucrat in the agency that releases this data and got direct confirmation that my "theory" was in fact the reason for the preponderance of upward revisions. But I guess he was lying too. All government bureaucrats are liars. All are part of the vast conspiracy and web of lies. There's never any truth in any government data.

Okkaaaaaay, so now your argument is that inside information available to you, from "a government bureaucrat in the agency," who confirms that your (bullshit) theory is "correct?"

 

Adler, you're a fucking hack. Did you honestly just write that?

Please tell me your 11 year old commandeered your computer and posted that, for the sake of whatever scrap of credibility you may have left.

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:24 | Link to Comment Lee Adler- The ...
Lee Adler- The Wall Street Examiner's picture

Certainly not inside information. Pick up the phone and call them yourself and ask them the reason. The phone numbers and contact persons are not secret. They are readily available if you care to look.  So call them and decide for yourself if they are telling the truth. I did that, and that was my conclusion. If you do it and decide differently, then fine. If after doing that, your conclusion is still that I am a fucking hack, I won't begrudge you that. It's fine with me.

Everyone here reading this thread has to make these judgments for themselves. You can do the work and try to find out yourself, or not. I do it because it's part of my job. At the same time, I am completely comfortable with you and anyone else disagreeing with my conclusions, or even thinking that I'm full of shit. I've done my best. That's all. If it's not good enough for you, so be it. 

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:31 | Link to Comment TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Okay, what number did you call and who did you talk to?

I'd like to know if...:

 

I spoke to a government bureaucrat in the agency that releases this data and got direct confirmation that my "theory" was in fact the reason for the preponderance of upward revisions. But I guess he was lying too. All government bureaucrats are liars. All are part of the vast conspiracy and web of lies. There's never any truth in any government data.

 

...the "bureaucrat in the agency" that you spoke with, who "confirmed your theory" is competent to render such judgments.

Thanks.

Mon, 04/16/2012 - 08:48 | Link to Comment widget
widget's picture

Give the man a break. He called an official who said officials aren't lying. What more can you ask

Fri, 04/13/2012 - 11:41 | Link to Comment TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

By the way, if anyone doubts Adler's a massive idiot, contrast what he's saying in the commentary section about tax data with what he said 9 months ago:

Jun 28, 2011 – In Federal Withholding Tax Data Says US Already In Recession, Lee Adler explains why he thinks we've already entered a recession.

No Recovery - Next up, Resession or Collapse?

 

p.s. I'm still waiting for the name and number of your contact in government, Adler.

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