March 29, 2012

DOL’s Seasonal Initial Jobless Claims Revisions Increase Past 4 Weeks’ Numbers by Almost 4%; Media Virtually Mum

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:39 pm

Earlier this year, a reporter informed me of what is apparently a common belief in the business press, namely that “the Labor Department considers the (seasonally adjusted, or SA) numbers to be much more reflective of what’s actually going on in the economy” than the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted, or NSA) economic data. That’s interesting, given that you can’t even do seasonal adjustments without the raw data, but I digress. That expressed and almost blind belief in SA numbers explains why virtually no one in the press bothers to look at, let alone report, the NSA numbers.

But given this “seasoned” faith, why didn’t the business press tell readers that today’s revisions to SA figures for initial unemployment claims going back to 2007 released today by the Department of Labor increased the originally reported amounts for the past four weeks by an average of almost 4%? That’s indeed what happened, and it hardly seems minor. Instead, Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press all celebrated today’s number (359,000) as the lowest in four years — which it will no longer be if it gets revised upward next week by 2,000 or more next week (the average seen during the past year has been a bit below 4,000). The specific changes are after the jump, followed by a rundown of the three wire services’ coverage.

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AP Headline on House’s Unanimous Rejection of Obama Budget: ‘GOP-run House Easily Rejects’

Every Congressman who voted on President Obama’s budget on Wednesday voted against it — every Democrat and every Republican.

The headline writer for Andrew Taylor’s related story at the Associated Press nonetheless felt it necessary to remind readers that Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives, and only told readers that Dear Leader’s budget was “easily” rejected. The report itself by Taylor was just as bad, if not worse (shown in full because of its brevity, and for fair use and discussion purposes):
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Latest PJ Media Column (‘Headlines Control the Narrative. Guess Who Controls the Headlines?’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

The column, with specific examples, shows how the press has become more effective than ever at dis-informing relatively disengaged voters through misleading headlines and opening paragraphs in stories sent to computers, smartphones, and tablets.

Unemployment Claims: 359K SA; Previous Weeks Adjusted Significantly Upward in Revisions to Seasonal Factors

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:37 am

What in the world is going on here?

From the Department of Labor:

Note: This week’s release reflects the annual revision to the weekly unemployment claims seasonal adjustment factors. The seasonal adjustment factors used for the UI Weekly Claims data from 2007 forward, along with the resulting seasonally adjusted values for initial claims and continuing claims, have been revised.

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending March 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 359,000, a decrease of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 364,000. The 4-week moving average was 365,000, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 368,500.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 319,349 in the week ending March 24, a decrease of 33 from the previous week. There were 357,457 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

Bloomberg predicted 359,000, and feigns almost total obliviousness to what follows in this post, except to note that “the government data also contain revisions dating back to 2007.”

Previous weeks’ numbers have been revised wayyyy upward from last week (DOL; related BizzyBlog post).

Last week’s initial number was 348K; revised, it’s 364K.

The week previous to that started out at 351K, was revised to 353K last week, and now stands at 363K.

These are big changes.

The DOL pages explaining and/or detailing this aren’t responding right now. More later, with hopefully a look back at the previous full year to see what the revisions noted at the top did to the original numbers.

4Q11 GDP, Third Reading (032912): No Change (Annualized +3.0%)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:59 am

Note: This post was inadvertently scheduled to appear after the effective time at which it should have been posted.

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Econ catch-up:

Institute for Supply Management Indices (from early March; Ohio’s primary lead-up got in the way of earlier coverage) –

Durable goods orders — Came in with a 2.2% increase for February compared to expectations of 3.0%.

From the Census Bureau on new home sales last Friday –

Sales of new single-family houses in February 2012 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 313,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 1.6 percent below the revised January rate of 318,000, but is 11.4 percent above the February 2011 estimate of 281,000.

February’s actual sales were 25,000, up from February 2011 but down from February 2010. There’s no meaningful evidence of recovery in the new-home market.

Actual GDP results:

GDP growth stayed at an annualized +3.0% (BEA announcement; full text and tables. More later if there’s anything significant.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (032912)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:00 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

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Via Ace, late last week:

No, Seriously, Zimmerman Said “Punks”

It’s clear as a bell. Now, this is “cleaned up,” and I suppose someone could say “That’s just a nice word for altered,” but that’s what CNN did when it tried to push the meme that Zimmerman had said “coons.”

He didn’t. It’s plainly “punks.”

But “coons” fit the predetermined meme sooooooo well.

Positivity: In Revolution Square, Pope praises religious freedom

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

Note: This post was inadvertently scheduled for Friday when its intended target date was Thursday.

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From Havana:

Mar 28, 2012 / 11:23 am

Cuba has made progress towards full religious freedom and the government should continue these advances to strengthen society and to allow the Catholic Church to pursue her mission, Pope Benedict XVI said at a huge public Mass in Havana, Cuba.

“It must be said with joy that in Cuba steps have been taken to enable the Church to carry out her essential mission of expressing her faith openly and publicly,” the Pope said in his homily on March 28.
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