June 2, 2011

In Unemployment Claims Report, AP’s Rugaber Largely Cleans Up His Act, But With One Big Bust

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 pm

Is AP reporter Christopher Rugaber taking yours truly’s admonishments to heart? Either he is, or there were a number of odd coincidences in his reports today (early; later) on the small drop in initial unemployment claims (to 422,000, from an upwardly revised 428,000 the previous week) reported by the Department of Labor this morning.

Last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I criticized Rugaber’s unemployment claims coverage for repeating for the umpteenth time that weekly claims peaked over two years ago at 659,000 during the recession, and suggested that discussing what has happened in the past three months (drops to under 400,000 in March followed by significant rises to consistently well above 400,000 in April and May) might be a little more relevant.

Lo and behold, check out the first few paragraphs from Rugaber’s longer 12:56 p.m. rendition. They appear strangely responsive to last week’s critique, but there is one significant factual error (in bold):

Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, but applications remain stuck at a level that signals weak job growth.

The number of applications for unemployment benefits dropped by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 422,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It was the third drop in four weeks. But the declines follow much bigger increases in April.

Applications dropped to 375,000 in late February – a level consistent with sustainable job growth. But for the past eight weeks, applications have stayed above 400,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell for the second straight week but remained high at 425,500.

Elevated unemployment applications are the latest sign that the economy has hit a soft patch after a strong start this year. Many economists expect May’s jobs report will show hiring slowed last month. The report will be released on Friday.

The bolded sentence is obviously erroneous, unless one considers the economy’s annualized 1.8% growth during the first quarter as “strong.” As seen in the graphic below, it isn’t even strong by the weak standards of the Obama economy, and it’s a joke compared to the post-recession recovery under Ronald Reagan:


Perhaps the AP reporter meant to refer to “employment growth” instead of “the economy” as getting off to a strong start. If so, Rugaber’s case would have been a bit more defensible, but “strong” is a relative term. Compared to the Reagan post-recession job performance, the current economy’s reported seasonally adjusted job gains so far this year pale in comparison, as seen below:


To make clear what the chart shows:

  • As far as all jobs are concerned, during post-recession months 19 through 22 (April through July, 1984), the economy under Reagan added over 1.36 million seasonally adjusted jobs, bringing its post-recession total to over 5.6 million. The economy under Obama during post-recession months 19 through 22 has added 768,000 jobs — roughly 56% of what was seen under Reagan — bringing its post-recession total to 535,000. That’s over 5 million jobs less than under Reagan, and despite a workforce that is about 40% larger.
  • In the private sector, the Reagan economy in post-recession months 19 through 22 added 1.22 million seasonally adjusted jobs, bringing its post-recession total to over 5.35 million. The Obama economy has added 854,000 such jobs in months 19 through 22 — 70% of what was seen under Reagan — bringing its post-recession total to 926,000, cumulatively trailing Reagan by over 4.4 million jobs.

To match the Reagan economy’s performance during the four-month periods in question, the Obama economy would have needed to add about 1.9 million overall and 1.7 million private-sector jobs. To match the Reagan economy’s overall post-recession performance, the Obama economy would have needed to add about 7.8 million overall and 7.5 million private-sector jobs. What it has actually achieved is obviously far, far less.

So you’ll have to excuse me, Chris, for not accepting your characterization of this year’s economy through April as “strong,” even if you limit the definition to employment growth.

Wrapping up an open item: Both Rugaber’s early and late reports on unemployment claims today do not make reference to the March 2009 recessionary peak of 659,000 initial weekly claims. Imagine that occurring the week after I point out how foolish it is to continue doing so. What a coincidence.

By the way, to emphasize how much more difficult the economic environment Reagan faced really was, there were three weeks during 1982 (Sept. 18 – 680,000; Sept. 25 – 671,000; Oct. 2 – 695,000) when initial weekly claims exceeded AP’s hopefully retired 2009 figure of 659,000 (to confirm, go here and select the appropriate years). That would be the equivalent of over 1 million weekly claims today for three consecutive weeks. Those three weeks in 1982 were part of a string of 14 consecutive weeks when initial claims topped 600,000.

So with the exception of the “strong growth” bust, this week’s Rugaber report on unemployment claims is a significant improvement. Now if we can only get him to start using the same term — “initial claims” — as the Department of Labor. Well, now that I’ve noted it, maybe we’ll see it next week.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

More Good Early-Stage Buckeye State News

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 11:24 am

It includes a probably overoptimistic quote (in bold below) I never thought I’d see.

From the (not kidding) Dayton Daily News on Tuesday:

Ohioans landing new jobs faster
Ohio workers’ time unemployed has declined, a positive direction for the state’s economy.

Jobless workers in Ohio and across the nation, especially those willing to relocate or apply their skills in different industries, are beginning to find new jobs at a slightly faster pace.

… Relocating to find new jobs is a trend that most labor experts expect to continue and could benefit states like Ohio, where unemployment of 8.6 percent is below the national average.

“Ohio is doing better than a lot of other states, so people should be moving here,” Zeller said.

The problem, however, is that jobs are scarce everywhere, he said, so moving for a job offers no guarantees.

“The question is where are you going to move to,’’ he said. “Historically, if you go back two or three years, large numbers of displaced workers from Ohio moved to California, Arizona and Florida. Now, California, Arizona and Florida are in worse shape than we are.”

Actually, Arizona is only marginally worse off than Ohio (8.9% not seasonally adjusted unemployment vs. Ohio’s 8.4%), while California (11.7%) and Florida (10.4%) are much worse off. Seasonally adjusted, the rundown is as follows: Arizona 9.3%, California 11.9%, Florida 10.8%, Ohio 8.6%. Update: And really large-scale movement to Florida for employment purposes probably stopped about three years ago (see next paragraph), and California a year earlier than that. The big move has been to Texas.

It took a special level of talent, but in his four-year term, Florida Governor and First-Class RINO Charlie Crist managed to largely ruin much of the great work Jeb Bush did as Sunshine State Governor during the previous eight (previously discussed here and here at BizzyBlog). New Governor Rick Scott is showing signs of turning around the mess he inherited from Crist.

A bit more vague but still good Ohio news:

Ohio and Indiana Honda plants to add 1,000 jobs

A spokesman for Honda says the addition of a second shift to line 1 of the Marysville facility will be the first time in 2 years that plant has had a second shift.

Ed Miller, a Honda of America Manufacturing spokesman, also spoke of a Greensburg, Indiana plant that could add 1,000 workers to keep up with demand.

Miller could not immediately say how many employees will be added in Marysville. “The number of jobs is being evaluated,” he said. But the additional shift will be added by the end of this year.

Given the company’s reliance on parts from Japan, which one might have thought would prevent such expansions, at least in the short-term, this is encouraging.


UPDATE: As long as we have people moving into Ohio again (we hope), could we possibly screen ‘em for sensible, constitutional conservatism? (Just kidding, lefties)

Former CIA Director: Interrogation Impact Deniers Are in the Same League as Truthers and Birthers

Given that a lefty commenter whose web site currently focuses exclusively on Ohio (I guess that’s what you have to do when the actions of Dems in Washington become totally indefensible) recently ended his rant with an admonishment that I should go back to my (non-existent) birtherism obsession, I found former CIA Director Michael Hayden’s Wall Street Journal op-ed on the topic this morning refreshingly sane.


Birthers, Truthers and Interrogation Deniers
The latest lunacy to get a popular hearing is the idea that harsh CIA interrogations yielded no useful intelligence. I guess we should toss out the 9/11 Commission Report.

For all of its well-deserved reputation for pragmatism, American popular culture frequently nurtures or at least tolerates preposterous views and theories. Witness the 9/11 “truthers” who, lacking any evidence whatsoever, claim that 9/11 was a Bush administration plot. And then we have the “birthers” who, even in the face of clear contrary evidence, take as an article of faith that President Obama was not born in the United States and hence is not eligible to hold his current office.

Let me add a third denomination to this faith-based constellation: interrogation deniers, i.e., individuals who hold that the enhanced interrogation techniques used against CIA detainees have never yielded useful intelligence. They, of course, cling to this view despite all evidence to the contrary, despite the testimony of four CIA directors, and despite Mr. Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s statement that there’s been “a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists.”

But let the record show that when I was first briefed in 2007 about the brightening prospect of pursuing bin Laden through his courier network, a crucial component of the briefing was information provided by three CIA detainees, all of whom had been subjected to some form of enhanced interrogation. One of the most alerting pieces of evidence was that two of the detainees who had routinely been cooperative and truthful (after they had undergone enhanced techniques) were atypically denying apparent factual data—a maneuver taken as a good sign that the CIA was on to something important.

So that there is no ambiguity, let me be doubly clear: It is nearly impossible for me to imagine any operation like the May 2 assault on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that would not have made substantial use of the trove of information derived from CIA detainees, including those on whom enhanced techniques had been used.

… We can debate what was appropriate then, or now, but this is a discussion about a particular historical fact: Information derived from enhanced interrogation techniques helped lead us to bin Laden.

Let me also remind readers that the Associated Press reported Hayden’s assertions as facts less than 24 hours after bin Laden’s demise:


Note the reference to “current and former” U.S. officials. That means people working under Obama and Bush 43, acknowledging the obvious, both told the AP the same thing.

In other words, there is no debate over the relevance of enhanced interrogation in Osama bin Laden’s demise; there are only interrogation reality recognizers and interrogation deniers.

The AP reporter(s) who couldn’t handle the truth would appear to be in line to join the denier camp. The third paragraph above says that the news relayed in the first two paragraphs will “reignite the debate.” What it really does is end it.

Unemployment Claims: 422K, on Expectations of 415K (Reuters)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:05 am

As usual, the DOL also tells us that the prior week was revised up to 428K from 424K, so they can say claims fell by 6K this week, until next week, when this week’s 422K will get revised up, just in time for next week’s fresh (understated) number.

Got that?

Here are the last 13 weeks:


Bright side: Today’s miss vs. expectations of 415K is quite small compared yesterday’s expectations busts in ISM manufacturing and ADP private-sector jobs, but it’s still in the wrong direction, and the original number is virtually destined to go up next week, as it has in every previous week presented.

Looks like a “new normal” of 420K or so — if we’re lucky.

Positivity: Church operating 117,000 centers for AIDS patients worldwide

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Vatican City:

May 27, 2011 / 03:07 pm

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care reported that the Catholic Church is currently running 117,000 centers to care for AIDS patients throughout the world.

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski told L’Osservatore Romano that in the past 30 years, more than 60 million people have contracted HIV, mostly in Africa. He spoke to the Vatican paper on the eve of a congress on the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS.

The conference is taking place May 27-28. It was organized by the Good Samaritan Foundation, instituted by Blessed John Paul II in 2004 and entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Health Care.

He underscored the testimony of “numerous health care workers and volunteers who, in their courageous care for the sick … have themselves contracted the infection.”

He also highlighted the work by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and the late Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor of New York, “who promoted numerous heath care centers for AIDS victims” and “many treatment and assistance programs in the United States and in other poor countries.”

The congress is intended to respond to the questions of “many bishops who contact our dicastery in order to receive constant help, with material assistance but above all with information on the latest advances in science in the fight against this disease,” Archbishop Zimowski said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.