Last week's initial claims "miracle", when it printed at 341K on expectations of a 360K print when the DOL estimated IL and CT claims, has once again been undone. Moments ago we got the February 16 number which, as could be anticipated, jumped by a solid 20,000, from an upward revised 342,000 to 362,000. And like last week, the Labor Department once again engaged in a huge guessing game, this time forecasting the claims for California, Virginia, Hawaii and DC, meaning next week's data will likely be even worse. Which is troubling. As the chart below shows, one would expect just a little more improvement from a recovery in which the just released initial claims of 362K are doing "so much better" compared to initial claims from precisely a year ago which were... 362K. Perhaps, keeping in line with greatly rotating themes, we can just call this "the 360 degree recovery - where you always end up where you started." Or maybe, just maybe, the Fed's tinkering with the economy for 4 years running has broken the whole thing?
And once again, the incredible volatile Extended Unemployment benefits series continues to be incredibly volatile, as 232K people fall off the government handout dole. The number of Americans on extended benefits has plunged from 3.4 million a year ago to just 1.8 million as of February 2. These Americans can hardly be happy to be playing Call of Duty all day and not getting paid for it by Uncle Sam.
And speaking of made up numbers, the BLS reported that CPI in January rose, well, not at all, posting a 0.0% change in a month, in which gas prices printed near or at all time highs for the month of January. Because all those all too real price surges of virtually everything... those are just in your head according to the US government.
But don't worry - the BLS said there is no inflation. What was curious is that the core print, ex gas and food, actually rose more than expected at 0.3%, on expectations of a 0.2% rise, and up from 0.1% in December. Also, according to the BLS gas prices declined 3% in January?
It is unclear just how many hedonically deflated iPads one must have eaten in the month of January to miss the surge at the pump. One thing is certain: in February that number will be "more."