January 15, 2015

Initial Unemployment Claims (011515) — Trouble in Paradise: 316K SA; Previous Week Revised Up 3K; Raw Claims Down Only 1.2% From Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:46 am

Yesterday’s Retail Sales:

Yesterday’s reported December fall in retail sales shook up the markets — too much in my opinion, because the raw numbers weren’t all that bad. The weak -0.9 percent result was also partially due to November coming in better than justified by the raw numbers.

Initial Unemployment Claims Predictions: Couldn’t find one at Bloomberg or Business Insider (Update: A Biz Insider item from early in the week predicted 292,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims.)

The DOL Report (permanent link): I think “Trouble in Paradise” is a good headline for this —

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending January 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 316,000, an increase of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 3,000 from 294,000 to 297,000. The 4-week moving average was 298,000, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 750 from 290,500 to 291,250.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 528,476 in the week ending January 10, an increase of 99,660 (or 23.2 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 66,724 (or 15.6 percent) from the previous week. There were 534,966 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

I wrote last week that this week’s report, covering the first full business week of the year without the effect of holiday timing, would be our first genuine indicator of how things are.

The answer: Not that good.

Raw claims were only down by 1.2 percent from a year ago. That’s definitely among the worst year-over-year comparables not affected by holidays during the past several years.

Additionally, this year’s seasonal adjustment factor of 167.1 is a bit higher than last year’s 162.6. If last year’s factor had been used, seasonally adjusted claims would have come in at 325,000 (528,476 divided by 1.626 is 325,000, rounded).

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UPDATE: DOL’s quarterly-adjusted “Covered Employment” statistic, the number of workers who would be eligible for unemployment benefits if they were let go or laid off, increased to 133,397,195.

That still places the number slightly below where is was over six years in the final quarter of 2008 (133,902,387), and full turnaround (ignoring workforce growth, which you ideally wouldn’t ignore) will probably occur in the second quarter.

The amount of time it has taken this statistic to come back to where it was is likely another record “achievement” of the Obama administration.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (011515)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: Sri Lankan cardinal credits papal trip for post-election peace

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Colombo, Sri Lanka:

Jan 13, 2015 / 10:05 am

After tense elections yielded a new president just days before Pope Francis’ arrival in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said that the “miracle” of a smooth transition is due in large part to the Pope’s visit.

“Before the elections there was a lot of pressure on the bishops to try and stop the Holy Father, to tell him not to come or to postpone (his visit),” Cardinal Ranjith told CNA Jan. 13.

“But we acted in good faith believing in God, that in these matters if we have faith everything succeeds…and it would seem that the miracle was worked out, that the elections went smoothly and that the transfer of power took place very, very smoothly,” he said.

Cardinal Ranjith, who was elevated to the rank of cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2010, had been waiting for the arrival of Pope Francis on Tuesday in the Archdiocese of Colombo ahead of an encounter with bishops. The pontiff never made it to the encounter, due to time strains in his schedule.

Last week Sri Lanka received a new president, Maithripala Sirisena, who was formerly the country’s health minister. He defeated former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had led the nation for nearly a decade.

Five years ago Rajapaksa was able to bring about an end to a nearly 30-year civil war Sinhala nationalists and Tamil separatists which claimed at least 60,000 lives.

However, despite bringing the war to a close, the former president had remained unpopular among the island nation’s ethnic and religious minorities, and tensions were running high ahead of last Thursday’s close-race election.

The “surprising” calm and transition of authority was due in large part to the presence of Pope Francis so soon after the elections took place, Cardinal Ranjith said.

Go here for the rest of the story.

Bobby Jindal …

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:31 am

gets it.