October 22, 2015

AP’s Crutsinger Seems Puzzled as Initial Jobless Claims Stay Low, Fails to Analyze

If a Republican or conservative was in the White House, the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger would have found a reason to be unimpressed in his dispatch today about how low initial unemployment claims continue to be, even as hiring has been slowing down. (Ideally, reporters should just relay the facts and leave the theorizing out of their stories, but that ship has sadly long since sailed.)

Crutsinger exhibited no real curiosity because a Democrat is in the White House. Therefore, it’s left to New Media to at least get the alternative ideas out there; a contributor at the contrarian blog Zero Hedge did that several days ago. After the jump, readers will find most of Crutsinger’s report covering the Department of Labor’s initial claims release today, and a healthly chunk of the just-mentioned Zero Hedge analysis.


Initial Unemployment Claims (102215): 259K SA; Raw Claims (233K) 9 Percent Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:02 am

I missed last week due to other more pressing matters.

From today’s release at the Department of Labor:


In the week ending October 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 259,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 255,000 to 256,000. The 4-week moving average was 263,250, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since December 15, 1973 when it was 256,750. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 265,000 to 265,250.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 232,883 in the week ending October 17, a decrease of 23,567 (or -9.2 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 26,362 (or -10.3 percent) from the previous week. There were 256,166 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

Last week’s result was also very strong, and raw claims have stayed below 250,000 consistently.

There’s nothing disturbing on the surface here, or in last week’s report.

Total covered employment for fourth-quarter reporting purposes inched up again to 135,574,808 from the previous quarter’s 134,803,907. The new figure is about 900,000, or 0.7 percent, higher than the previous peak of 133,902,387 seen at the end of 2008, demonstrating that today’s employment structure throughout the economy has a slightly lower companent of people who are covered by unemployment insurance.

At Zero Hedge a couple of days ago, a writer had a distinctly contrarian take on whether low initial claims really constitute the kind of good news almost everyone else assumes it is. Unfortunately I can’t find the item at the moment, but the point was that employers have gotten rid of most of the people they needed to; are hoarding the good, reliable workers they have; but are very reluctant to take on new workers.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102215)

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: After break-in, Bishop Conley prays for burglar’s conversion

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Lincoln, Nebraska:

Oct 13, 2015 / 10:03 am

When Bishop James Conley’s residence in Lincoln, Nebraska was invaded and burglarized this weekend, he offered a message of forgiveness and called on the faithful to pray that the thief will discover Christ and return the stolen items.

“One of Christ’s last acts on the Cross was forgiveness of a repentant thief,” Bishop Conley said in a statement, adding that “certainly, the Church forgives the person responsible for this crime. God offers his mercy well.”

“I ask all Catholics to join me in praying that the thief will experience a conversion of heart, and seek the mercy of God,” the Lincoln bishop continued.

Around 1:30 P.M. on Saturday, Oct. 10, the alarm in Bishop Conley’s residence was set off, notifying local diocesan officials and the Lincoln police. The bishop was not at home at the time of the break-in.

Among the items stolen were pectoral crosses, one of which is believed to contain a relic of the cross of Jesus. However, no additional items of value were taken from the bishop’s home, and local law enforcement has opened an investigation into the burglary. …

Go here for the rest of the story.