January 17, 2013

Wires Trumpet ’5-Year Low’ in Seasonally Adjusted Jobless Claims, Ignore Year-Over-Year Rise in Raw Claims

None of the three major wire services covering today’s report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims is reporting the major news: For the first time in a long while, actual claims filed during the most recent week ended January 12 were almost 6 percent higher than the number filed during last year’s comparable week, an indication that the current employment market may be worse than it was a year ago. Instead, all three wires are headlining how today’s questionably created seasonally adjusted claims number is the lowest in five years.

Both weeks had five business days. Both weeks represented the first such week in the new year. So how did higher raw claims result in the lowest seasonally adjusted claims number in five years, a number which is 8 percent lower than last year’s comparable week? The answer, as will be seen after the jump, is that the seasonal adjustment factor used this year is sharply higher than the one used last year.

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Initial Unemployment Claims: 335K SA; NSA Layoffs up by Almost 6% Year Over Year; YOY Seasonal Adjustment Factors Wildly Differ (UPDATE: First Truly Comparable YOY Increase Since Oct. 2009)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:51 am

Cliff’s notes: Seasonally adjusted claims, if calculated consistently with the same week last year, would be 50,000 higher than the 335,000 being reported.

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Bloomberg’s prediction is 368,000 initial claims.

AP: “Stock futures are edging higher ahead of new data expected to show that hiring and home building continue to ramp up in the U.S.”

Well, here we go — From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending January 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 335,000, a decrease of 37,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 372,000. The 4-week moving average was 359,250, a decrease of 6,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 366,000.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 555,708 in the week ending January 12, an increase of 2,360 from the previous week. There were 525,422 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

This is horse manure, as seen in DOL’s own summary:

UnempClaims011213

Raw claims (green boxes) were 5.8% higher than the same week last year — both weeks had five business days, representing the first such week in each respective year — yet seasonally adjusted claims (red boxes) are 8% lower.

This occurred the because the seasonal adjustment factor used this past week (166.0) is much higher than the the one used during the same week last year (144.2).

If last year’s factor had been used on this year’s raw number, seasonally adjusted claims would have come in at 385,000 (555,708 divided by 1.442, rounded).

Today’s report does NOT show that “hiring is ramping up.” It shows, for the first time in what may be years, at least during a week clearly comparable to the prior year, that year-over year layoffs are on the rise.

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UPDATE, Jan. 21: Finally had a chance to look at prior year figures in detail. The three most previous instances where year-over-year raw claims increased were as follows:

  • 11/10/12 vs. 11/12/11 — Claims were 116K higher, but that can be charged off to 2012 Superstorm Sandy.
  • 4/30/11 vs. 5/1/10 — Claims were 16K higher, and would have been influence by Easter taking place on 4/24/11 (i.e., claims that couldn’t be filed on Good Friday carried into the early days after Easter; Easter 2010 was much earlier).
  • 10/31/09 vs. 11/1/08 — Claims were 21K higher. This was the end of a long string of such weeks due the recession and lack of anything resembling an initial recovery in the fall of 2009. This is the last truly comparable week when current year claims exceeded the comparable full business week in the prior year.

So it’s been over three years (actually 167 weeks) since we’ve seen a real increase in weekly raw claims over a truly comparable week in the previous year.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (011713)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:20 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Changes to March for Life focus on engaging culture

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:15 am

From Washington:

Jan 16, 2013 / 02:15 pm

When hundreds of thousands of people descend upon the nation’s capital for the March for Life this year, they will be met with exciting changes aimed at young people and cultural renewal, said the event’s leader.

“I think it’s really a spiritual battle,” March for Life president Jeanne Monahan told CNA on Jan. 15. “This march does have a huge impact on actually saving lives.”

Forty years after the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion throughout America, the March for Life is looking forward to continuing this impact with Monahan, who took over as head of the organization last year.

“The rally will have a really different spirit this year,” said Monahan, explaining that it will be much shorter, only about an hour, compared to several hours in the past.

In addition, she said, the rally will have a very different feel than in previous years, which have featured upwards of 50 legislators and other speakers. Instead, Monahan noted, the rally this year will spotlight a handful of speakers, “who are actually steeped in the issue,” and the speeches will “tap into all the cutting-edge pro-life issues,” both legal and cultural.

The March for Life will also incorporate new technology into this year’s event and those of the future, she continued. During the Jan. 25 rally on the National Mall, there will be “huge jumbotrons so that participants will be able to see what’s happening,” regardless of their proximity to the speakers.

The jumbotrons will also be utilized before the rally to play “interesting and engaging videos related to pro-life,” as well as to entertain those waiting for the march to begin.

The March for Life’s digital presence has also been updated, with a new website that was launched just two weeks before the event. Monahan described the site as having “gone from a relic to a very engaging and fun website.”

“We’re trying to do a good job of commemorating the unique 55 million lives that we’ve lost in the last four decades, but at the same time, capturing the enthusiasm of the march and young people. …”

Go here for the rest of the story