September 2, 2011

Geez, Chris and Paul, Ya Think?

APheartsObamaFrom Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press, in their 9:27 p.m. dispatch on today’s “ØMG” jobs report:

Most economists expect growth to improve to about a 2 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter – though Friday’s bleak report may cause some economists to downgrade their forecasts.

Ya think, guys? Well then why, Chris and Paul, did you still relay without any skepticism the White House’s howler of a claim (based on current circumstances, though miracles can happen, I suppose) that 2011 growth, which was only an annualized 0.7% in the first half, will come in at 1.7% later in your report?

Rugaber got a tongue-lashing from Rush Limbaugh on his program today (additional paragraph breaks added by me):

I have here a review of AP stories on unemployment, and it is hilarious. All three are from the AP by Christopher Rugaber. From this morning at 8:30 (Rush corrected to late Thursday night — Ed.), AP story headline: “Jobs Report Could Show Signs Of Modest Growth.” … “Businesses likely shrugged off recession fears and kept hiring in August, although not nearly enough to lower the unemployment rate. Analysts forecast that the economy added 93,000 jobs last month, down from 117,000 in July. Unemployment rates expected to stay at 9.1%, according to a survey by Factset.” Okay. That’s number one. At 8:30, businesses likely shrugged off recession fears, kept hiring in August, added 93,000 jobs in August.

Next story is about 11:15 this morning (actually early this morning, as Rush noted later — Ed.), same reporter, Christopher Rugaber. “August began with rising fears that another recession was about to hit. That was then. A month later, the economy and the stock market appear more resilient, suggesting that consumers, businesses and investors remain confident enough to keep spending.”

“A more authoritative test will come Friday, when the government issues the August jobs report. Employers are expected to have added 93,000 jobs, which would not be enough to significantly lower the jobless rate of 9.1 percent. But it would solidify evidence that the economy, though still weak, is growing steadily. Many analysts now expect it to strengthen in the months ahead.”

Okay, and then after that Christopher Rugaber heard that the number was not 93,000 jobs added, but zero, zilch, zero, nada and he ran around the AP newsroom saying, “Oh, my God, get me rewrite!” Washington: “Employers Added No Net Workers Last Month — The unemployment rate was unchanged, a sign that many were nervous the US economy could be at risk of slipping into another recession. The Labor Department said Friday that total payrolls were unchanged in August, the weakest report in almost a year.”

… Three AP stories, the first two talking about revived growth, 93,000 new jobs in August. Then they released the number, and the headline: “Employers Add No Net Jobs in Aug.; Rate Unchanged — The Labor Department said Friday that total payrolls were unchanged in August, the weakest report in almost a year. It’s the first time since February 1945 that the government has reported a net job change of zero.”

… One out of five Americans cannot find work in the greatest nation on earth. We have journalistic malpractice going on here from the Associated Press, telling everybody in stories leading up to the release of the number that 93,000 jobs are gonna be created. And what number do you think people might remember? Two stories at 93,000, then the real news hits and it’s zero and it’s sort of undersold and no big deal.

… Look at this absolute abomination from AP just today and yesterday. Yesterday, AP with a story, 93,000 jobs will be created in August, it will be announced tomorrow. Not enough to change the unemployment rate but a sure sign that there are positive signs of growth. Then the number comes out and it’s zero. And they ho-hum report that and never reference the fact that they were dead wrong in their forecast of 93,000.

Now Chris, your defense will be that you were just relaying others’ predictions on that 93,000 estimate, which is fine. And Rush was probably overstating it when he said you were downplaying the zero jobs added. But the happy talk that accompanied the two runup reports was totally unsupported by the data that’s been out there for at least a few weeks up to and including yesterday. “Businesses likely shrugged off recession fears”? “A sense of relief that the economy is still expanding”? “Layoffs (i.e., unemployment claims) have eased a bit”? (Only if Verizon, which everyone knows was a one-off, is included. Excluding Verizon, claims are trending up.) Oh, and “the economy and the stock market appear more resilient”? Spare me.

When oh when will you guys at the AP start playing it straight?

TIB Broadcast Is Tonight

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 5:59 pm

The show is here.

Listen in. It will be good. Heaven knows there’s no shortage of topics.

ØMG: Reax to the ‘No Jobs’ Report

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:17 pm

First, a chart of the day, which Alo at Brain Shavings had up in advance yesterday, which Business Insider has updated:

ScaryJobsChartAug2011

Actually, it’s a tie between the chart above and this one from Investors Business Daily showing that the economy in every single recovery since World War II took 1, 2, or 3 quarters to get back to where it was before the related downturn began. This one is eight quarters in, and we’re STILL not there.

Okay, now to some reactions:

  • Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway — “This is obviously incredibly bad news. Even if you take into account the roughly 45,000 Verizon workers that were out on strike in August, that gives us, at most, net job creation of around 30,000 or so. Which is really nothing, and certainly not enough to fix the unemployment problem.”
  • Rick Moran at American Thinker — “So who or what is Obama going to blame next week in his speech for this catastrophe? You have the hurricane, of course. And then there’s the earthquake. The Verizon Strike. Poopey head Republicans. Uncertainty in the markets. Citizens too dumb to understand his brilliance. The list goes on.”
  • At Zero Hedge — “Goldman’s Response To The NFP Miss: Here Comes QE3.”
  • Tom Iacono at Seeking Alpha — “Perhaps the most important information in this release was that prior payroll data was revised downward … Over the last three months, payrolls have grown at an anemic rate of just 35,000.”
  • Via House Speaker John Boehner — “The unemployment rate has exceeded nine percent for 26 of the past 28 months and, by the White House’s own estimate, will continue to do so ‘well into 2012.’ The White House’s trillion-dollar, taxpayer-funded ‘stimulus’ has failed, and the American people are owed more than a ‘don’t read too much into it’ response from this Administration. Unfortunately, it seems the only thing President Obama is offering is more of the same.”
  • Sweetness & Light, reacting to a CNN poll indicating that 80% of Americans believe we’re still in a recession: “When was the last time that more than 80% of Americans agreed on anything? … Still, it’s nice to see that Mr. Obama is bringing us together, after all.”
  • Ross Kaminsky at the American Spectator — “A substantial reason for the weak number in August was the strike at Verizon, which took about 45,000 workers off payrolls. However, this number was already factored into analyst estimates.” And, as noted at this morning’s post in an afternoon update, it doesn’t offset the Birth/Death Model’s assumption that 87,000 net jobs were created by start-ups less fold-ups.

Pittsburgh Labor Unions Turn Monday Parade Into Obama-Supporting ‘March for Labor,’ Exclude ‘Hostile’ Pols

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:55 pm

In late July, in a move with some similarities to what yours truly has noted in Wausau, Wis. this week (here, here, and here), the Allegheny County Labor Council of the AFL-CIO in Pittsburgh declined to allow the Steel City’s lone Republican candidate for City Council the ability to march in its Labor Day parade.

The differences between Wausau and Pittsburgh are that: a) being picky about who can march is a Pittsburgh parade tradition; b) the Labor Council dubiously claims that it underwrites the event (the city of Wausau has always paid for theirs); c) The Pittsburgh parade has since morphed into a highly partisan “March for Jobs.”

First, here are excerpts from Bob Bauder’s July 30 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review coverage:

No GOP allowed in Labor Day event

This year’s Labor Day parade will go on without the lone Republican candidate for Pittsburgh City Council.

Joshua Wander, 40, of Squirrel Hill said the Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, has refused his request to march in the September parade that will wind through Downtown. Wander will oppose Corey O’Connor, son of the late Mayor Bob O’Connor, in November for the District 5 seat being vacated by Councilman Doug Shields.

“Many candidates do march,” Wander said. “I not only wanted to walk as a candidate, but I also wanted to walk for the Republican Party.”

Labor council President Jack Shea said parade participation is an invitation-only affair.

“Those are our rules,” Shea said. “It’s our parade. We pay for it.”

… “Those who are not in tune with the working class, we do not invite,” Shea said. “(Wander) has to be invited, and he’s not going to be invited by me.”

… Organizers of both the Memorial Day parade and the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade said they permit politicians of both parties to march as long as they conform with parade rules, which essentially prohibit them from campaigning.

“If you invite politicians, you can’t pick and choose which one,” said Jim McGinley, organizer of the Memorial Day parade. “If you allow one in, you have to allow them all in.”

… Nadine Brnilovich, Pittsburgh’s Special Events Committee coordinator, said the city is not involved with planning or organizing parades and has no input in the selection of participants. The city, she said, issues a permit and provides police and emergency medical service for the events. Permit fees cost $3,125 for larger parades.

At first blush, Bauder’s headline appears to be an overreach, but in the article, he cites a Republican leader who asserts that “Jack Shea usually finds ways of stopping us from being there, but his refusal is within the law.” However, the next item I will cite contradicts the “(absolutely) no GOP” assertion.

As to the cost, it’s one thing for the city to charge a nominal fee for a parade which is non-partisan, but it’s quite another to have the same fee for a politically charged rally. Shoot, $3,125 may barely cover the pay and benefits of Ms. Brnilovich’s administrative time devoted to the event.

And yes, in a recent development (the July 30 item has no “March for Jobs” reference), this year’s event will be a politically charged rally, as senior politics writer Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post details from her perch in Washington:

Pittsburgh Unions Turn Labor Day Parade Into ‘March For Jobs,’ Shut Out Anti-Union Politicians

Unions in Pittsburgh are bringing a special focus on jobs and the unemployed to their Labor Day parade this year, dubbing the event a “March for Jobs.” Organizers expect more than 70,000 people to march in Monday’s event, but they’ve made clear to politicians perceived to be hostile to the labor movement that they will be turned away.

“This year we are inviting union and non-union, laid-off, unemployed and underemployed workers and their families to march with us on the eve of President Obama’s much anticipated announcement of a jobs program aimed at putting America back to work,” said Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County (Pa.) Labor Council.

“We will be marching to show President Obama we are behind all serious efforts to create jobs and encourage him to pull out all the stops by putting the power of the federal government fully behind an aggressive jobs program,” Shea added.

… Pennsylvania AFL-CIO spokesman Marty Marks said that only friends of the labor movement, regardless of political party, are invited to march in the Pittsburgh Labor Day parade. The local labor council reimburses the city for parade-related expenses.

About six Republican politicians were invited to march this year, along with a larger number of Democratic officials. Invited guests include U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R), U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D) and state Sen. John Pippe (R-Allegheny).

Two prominent GOP politicians who were not invited to march were U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and Gov. Tom Corbett. When asked what the labor council would do if they said they wished to participate, Marks replied, “We would politely decline their participation.”

… Marks said that while the Labor Day event always features unemployed workers marching with their affiliated unions, this is the first year there will be a special place for the unemployed in the parade to emphasize the need for job creation.

Mr. Marks clearly doesn’t appreciate how the exclusion of GOP Governor Corbett contradicts his stated interest in “job creation.” Under Corbett, the Keystone State has added 53,300 seasonally adjusted jobs during the first seven months of this year. During Democrat Ed Rendell’s entire final year, the state added 64,000 jobs. During Rendell’s second term, the state lost 140,000 jobs. Metro Pittsburgh has added 13,400 jobs this year while adding 16,800 during all of last year and losing 12,600 during Rendell’s second term. Pennsylvania under Corbett hasn’t done as well as Texas under Rick Perry or Ohio under John Kasich, but it’s moving in a more positive direction.

Let’s also note for the record that Ms. Terkel’s “70,000″ number refers to “marchers.” How about spectators (y’know, this is or least was supposed to be a parade)? At least last year, there weren’t too many:

Economy dampens turnout at Pittsburgh’s Labor Day parade

Tens of thousands of Labor Day Parade participants marched yesterday for blocks without a single onlooker to cheer them on.

Spectator turnout for the annual parade Downtown was heavy in some spots — Grant Street, for instance — but sparse in others. And some participants were not surprised.

“There’s a lot of unemployment right now,” said Dan Gilman, 29, of Fox Chapel, who watched the parade pass on the Boulevard of the Allies with his wife and two young children. “If the economy were booming, everybody would be out here celebrating. But a lot of people are disenchanted.”

… The parade ended at 12:30 p.m. Ten minutes later, the streets were deserted except for a handful of city workers breaking down the viewing stage near the United Steelworkers Union Building.

This year, who knows? But similarly low turnout would seem to indicate that any claim of widespread sympathy for the union’s parade-hijacking agenda has little support.

It’s more than a little surprising that what the Labor Council has done to the Steel City’s parade this year hasn’t gained any media coverage outside the Steel city — and very little within it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

The August Employment Situation Report (090211); ØMG! NO Seasonally Adjusted Jobs Added, Unemployment at 9.1% (UPDATE: Kept From Negative By Birth/Death at +87K)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:42 am

As a public service, here’s a quick pictorial summary for those who don’t have time to read the whole post:

TrainwreckEcon

Recent Econ Reports:

  • ADP’s Employment Report showed 91,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added.
  • ISM’s Manufacturing Index stayed in expansion, but with certain key elements (e.g., production) in contraction.
  • The Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey did a deep dive into the tank back to where it was over two years ago.
  • Initial weekly unemployment claims remain stubbornly above 400,000.
  • Vehicle sales were up 7.5% in August against a horrid year-ago figure. Detroit’s traditional Big Three and Nissan had a relatively good month. Toyota and Honda didn’t.

Earlier expectations: Just over a week ago, CNBC’s Jeff Cox had a story (“Fears Grow That August Will Show Net Loss in Jobs Picture”) on how “Some prominent economists think the (August jobs) report will show a modest decrease in jobs when the final tally is made …”

Specifics cited:

  • Paul Dales, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto, predicted 25,000 seasonally adjusted jobs lost.
  • Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital, forecasted 27,000 job gains.
  • Economist Jeffrey Greenberg at Nomura Global Economics went with 5,000 jobs lost, based on trends in unemployment claims. I don’t know if he gave special consideration to the Verizon strike’s influence on the numbers during two relatively recent weeks.
  • Kurt Karl, chief U.S. economist at Swiss Re in New York, had a more conventional prediction of +100,000.

Other more recent predictions:

  • On Wednesday, after ADP’s report on private-sector employment came in with 91,000 jobs added, Reuters carried a prediction of +75,000.
  • CNBC’s post-ADP consensus prediction was +80,000.
  • After yesterday’s unemployment claims report, Reuters and Bloomberg carried estimates of +75K and +70K, respectively.
  • (Via Zero Hedge) Goldman Sachs, in the wake of Thursday’s unemployment claims and ISM reports, reduced its estimate to +25K from +50K.
  • Gallup’s survey-calculated unemployment rate went from 8.8% to 9.1%. It predicts that “the August unemployment rate that the government will report Friday will be higher than the 9.1% it reported in July.”

The “Raw Numbers” (Not Seasonally Adjusted) Benchmarks

Here is the context of the past 10 years, both seasonally adjusted and not:

NSAandSAemp0501to0711

August is a month with positive but not huge on-the-ground job growth when the economy is going well. Regardless of where the seasonally adjusted results come in, I would suggest that for the economy to be truly recovering and on something resembling a decent growth path, August’s not seasonally adjusted job adds need to be at least 170,000 and 200,000 overall and in the private sector, respectively. The overall benchmark is lower because I expect the trend of state and local government job attrition to continue.

I’d love to be wrong, but I’m quite skeptical that we’ll see anything close to either figure.

The report will appear here at 8:30 a.m.

ObamaAsZero0811HERE IT IS, and thanks for nothin’ — literally (counting prior months, it’s less than nothing):

Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment in most major industries changed little over the month. Health care continued to add jobs, and a decline in information employment reflected a strike. Government employment continued to trend down, despite the return of workers from a partial government shutdown in Minnesota.

Household Survey Data

The number of unemployed persons, at 14.0 million, was essentially unchanged in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent. The rate has shown little change since April. …

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment, at 131.1 million, was unchanged (0) in August. Employment changed little in most major private-sector industries.

… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from +46,000 to +20,000, and the change for July was revised from +117,000 to +85,000.

This is a Hindenberg-level disaster. Per the Establishment Survey (seasonally adjusted), 58,000 fewer people (June’s -26K and July’s -32K) were estimated to be working in August than were working in July.

UPDATE, 9:00 a.m.: The raw (not seasonally adjusted) numbers were 118,000 for total nonfarm and 85,000 in the private sector. Here’s the chart above revised for today’s numbers:

SAandNSAjobs2001to0811

As would be expected based on the seasonally adjusted results, those are far short of the benchmarks noted above.

But to be fair to Team Obama, even though this doesn’t change the train-wreck evaluation (especially given Update 2, which I do not believe is offset by Update 3), if August’s NSA numbers had appeared in 2005 or 2006, the seasonally adjusted numbers would probably have come in positive to the tune of (very) roughly +60K in each case.

So they got a bad break. As can be seen above, they got a break in the opposite direction three months ago, when pretty bad raw numbers still led to positive May 2011 results which would likely have been negative if they had been posted in the mid-2000s. What goes around eventually comes around.

UPDATE 2, 10:30 a.m.: Birth/Death was +87K vs. 91K in August 2010. That seems wildly optimistic. Needless to say, any downward adjustment to Birth/Death takes this month’s overall seasonally adjusted number into negative territory.

UPDATE 3, 4:15 p.m.: The BLS noted that “Employment in the information industry declined by 48,000 in August. About 45,000 workers in the telecommunications industry were on strike and thus off company payrolls during the survey reference period.” Okay, but remember that this influences the NSA numbers before they’re converted to SA, and it’s not necessarily a one-to-one relationship. I think that the Birth/Death (which is also part of NSA) is so not reasonable that it outweighs the Verizon influence.

Positivity: Woman thanks men who saved her life in highway heart attack

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:22 am

From British Columbia (video at link):

Date: Wednesday Aug. 24, 2011 4:54 PM PT

A B.C. woman who suffered a massive heart attack while driving last month has been reunited with the two men that saved her life.

Forty-four-year-old Jana Mitchell of Langley was driving along Highway 1 in Coquitlam when her heart stopped on July 21. Strangers Courtney Smith and Ron MacLeod averted certain tragedy by boxing in her car and then performing CPR.

Mitchell, a single mother of three, met her two saviours for the first time this week.

“I’m speechless. I’m so speechless. You guys are just unbelievable human beings,” Mitchell said, wrapping her arms around the two men.

Both heroes told her she looked “awesome” — at least compared to the last time they saw her.

On the day of the crisis, Smith was driving down Highway 1 and saw Mitchell’s car veering out of control at 80 kilometres per hour as she sat unconscious behind the wheel. He swerved his van to box her in and stop it from crashing into a concrete barrier.

MacLeod saw the emergency unfold and joined the fray, helping Smith pull the unconscious woman from her car and then giving her CPR until paramedics arrived.

Mitchell can’t remember anything about the heart attack. Just two weeks ago, she suffered a second one, and she’s learned she suffers from a rare heart condition. Titanium stents are now keeping her alive.

She said she was overwhelmed by the efforts of the two Good Samaritans to save her life.

“It’s a really unbelievable feeling knowing there is someone connected to me like that in my life. I think I’ll always be connected with those two gentlemen,” Mitchell said.

MacLeod, an Agricultural Land Commission investigator, and salesman Smith say they were just happy to help. …

Go here for the rest of the story.