July 28, 2011

Ceiling Our Fate (Carried to the Top; See Updates)

I’ll start with an audio clip from Mark Levin last night, and will hopefully have more to say later.

Sadly, I mostly agree with Levin, and am disappointed to this point with Boehner, who to be clear is mostly but not fully responsible for his awkward position thanks far more to people like the Gang of S*cks and other RINO undercutters than to people on the Tea Party side (with certain exceptions; final minute of the vid is an on-air ad):

Small disagreements with Levin: People who can’t handle being told “get your *sses in line” without crying about hurt feewwwwings have no place in politics. Also, despite one BizzyBlog commenter’s frequent assertions to the contrary, Boehner has been about the most conservative Congressman in the U.S. during his two decades in Washington. Whether that’s good enough in the current dire circumstances, or whether it translates into effective leadership, are entirely different matters.

(updates are after the jump)
(more…)

Press Celebrates Unemployment Claims Drop Below 400K, Ignores Track Record of Upward Revisions

Two “alert” emails hit my inbox this morning concerning the Department of Labor’s just-released unemployment claims report.

The one I expected came from CNNMoney.com, which read: “Initial unemployment claims fall below 400,000 for the first time in more than 3 months, dropping 24,000 to 398,000 in latest week.”

The other one came from USAToday.com, which does not ordinarily issue alerts when this report appears, took the opportunity to relay the same message, followed by an assertion that today’s report is “a sign the job market may be healing after a recent slump.”

Over at the Associated Press, Christopher Rugaber joined in the premature e-celebration (possibly more permanent link here):

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since early April, a sign the job market may be healing after a recent slump.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications fell 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 398,000. That’s the first time applications have fallen below 400,000 in 16 weeks.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, dropped to 413,750, the lowest since the week of April 23.

Stocks rose after the report was released.

Economists cautioned that the lower level only reflects one week of data and that doesn’t necessarily signal a trend.

The two emails, Rugaber’s dispatch, and Annalyn Censky’s CNNMoney’s report (USAT carried Rugaber’s work) all engaged in premature e-celebration because they failed to inform readers about the report’s history of subsequent-week revisions. In 18 of the past 20 weeks, upward revisions have been 2,000 or more. An increase of that magnitude or greater would of course restore the supposedly broken streak if it takes place next week. The average upward revision for the past 20 weeks from initial announcement to final result has been 4,500:

InitialClaims030511to072311

The folks at Zero Hedge, who have been looking at this trend much longer than yours truly and observing similar results, today found it all “quite amusing as next week’s upward revision will mean the 400k+ streak will continue.”

Well, not for certain. But just as it would be irresponsible for a sports announcer to report a halftime score as a final, it’s just as irresponsible to claim that a streak has ended without identifying its clearly tentative nature — especially given what’s happened during the rest of the game for the past several months.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Unemployment Claims: 398K, Down 24K from Prev. Wk’s Upwardly Revised (of Course) 422K; NSA at 367K

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:04 am

From the Department of Labor:

In the week ending July 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 398,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 422,000. The 4-week moving average was 413,750, a decrease of 8,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 422,250.

… The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 366,578 in the week ending July 23, a decrease of 103,503 from the previous week. There were 413,679 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

My Business Insider email had a prediction of 425,000.

Had I not been distracted, I would have asked ahead of time if DOL head Hilda Solis was capable of cooking the books on this report to make things not look so bad during debt-ceiling negotiations, or whether any drops in initial claims might be more of a function of employers running out of people to let go than of anything legitimately positive relating to the economy.

Anyway, the previous week went up for the 14th time in the past 15 weeks, and next week’s revision if form holds will push this week’s number over 400,000, keeping the streak of 16 weeks above that amount intact.

The not seasonally adjusted (i.e., the actual number) of 367K is more than 10% below the previous year for the first time in a while, assuming that all the claims which should have gotten to DOL did get to DOL.

Here are this week’s graphics:

UnempClaimsGraph072311

UnempClaimsChart072311

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UPDATE: After news that went the opposite way in previous weeks, Ohio had some good news in the detail DOL released relating to claims for the week of July 16, namely that claims dropped by over 5,000, because of “Fewer layoffs in the automobile industry.”

Positivity: Best story in Giants camp is a cancer survivor

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 12:59 am

From the New York Giants’ training camp:

om Coughlin got a new contract extension, Eli Manning made an appearance at training camp, and there was talk Plaxico Burress could end up back with the New York Giants.

The best news out of the Meadowlands on Wednesday, though, came from an undrafted rookie just trying to land a spot on the regular season roster.

Mark Herzlich passed yet another physical. The titanium rod in his left leg didn’t even give the doctors pause.

Now there’s nothing left to do but play football.

“I’m excited about what lies ahead,” he said.

That hardly seemed possible just a little over two years ago when the Boston College standout had to seek medical help for the awful pain in his leg. The test results were disturbing.

He had a rare form of bone cancer, the doctor said. Ewing’s sarcoma. He had a good chance of living, he was told, but he would never again play the sport he loved so much.

The doctor knew his medicine. But he didn’t know Mark Herzlich.

“The first questions in my head were `Why me?’ but that lasted only a few hours,” Herzlich said in a phone interview. “I decided, like everything in my life, I would have to tackle it head on. I was determined to not only do everything I could to get rid of the disease but to play football again.”

The surgery came first, with doctors inserting a 12-inch titanium rod that runs from Herzlich’s hip to just above his knee. Then came seven months of chemotherapy and another five weeks of radiation to help make sure the cancer was gone.

And, finally, the long rehabilitation back to where he could play linebacker his senior year at Boston College. One final season that would prove to everyone – himself included – that he had beaten it.

“Just being healthy again wasn’t a win in my book,” Herzlich said. “I equated football and running out of the tunnel with my team as beating cancer. Getting back to where I was would be the ultimate win.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.