by ilene - May 9th, 2011 2:37 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Every month the government posts the unemployment rate yet few know where the unemployment rate comes from, how it is determined, and the relationship between the unemployment rate and the monthly reported jobs total.
For a quick recap, the unemployment rate comes from a "Household Survey" while the reported headline jobs total comes from the "Establishment Survey". The former is a monthly phone survey, the latter is a sample of actual business employment.
The reason for the "Household Survey" is that it will pick up new business formation, especially small businesses that might not be on the radar of the "Establishment Survey" sample. Even if the "Establishment Survey" sample size was 100%, unless duplicate names were weeded out, it would double-count those holding multiple jobs.
The "Household Survey" attempts to determine five key items.
- Do you have a job?
- Is so was it full or part-time?
- If not, do you want a job?
- If you do not have a job and want a job, did you look for a job in the last 4 weeks?
- Are you in school, on leave, etc.
The BLS does not ask the questions like that, instead the BLS attempts to determine those answers by a detailed list of questions.
For a discussion of exactly what questions the BLS asks to determine the unemployment rate, please see Reader Question Regarding "Dropping Out of the Workforce"; Implications of the Falling Participation Rate
Definition of Unemployed
Logically, one might think one would be unemployed if they want a job and do not have a job.
However, the official definition of unemployed is you do not have a job, you want a job, and crucially, you have looked for a job in the last 4 weeks.
Every month the government reports "alternative" numbers but even though many of the alternate numbers are a more accurate representation of the unemployment rate, the media focuses on the headline number, ignoring millions who have "dropped out of the labor force" simply because they stopped looking for work.
Millions more are in "forced retirement", which I define as someone over 60 whose unemployment benefits ran out so they retired to collect Social Security even though they really want a job.
244,000 Jobs Added Last Month, So Why Did the Unemployment Rise?
Ping-Pong Seasonal Madness In Weekly Jobs Claims; How to Predict Whether the 4-Week Moving Average Will Rise or Fall
by ilene - January 29th, 2011 3:17 pm
Courtesy of Mish
Weekly unemployment claims have been all over the map recently. Here are the seasonally-adjusted Weekly Unemployment Claims totals for the last 5 weeks.
Jan 27, 454,000
Jan 20, 403,000
Jan 13, 447,000
Jan 06, 411,000
Dec 30, 388,000
The first three numbers above are from the current report. I calculated the January 6, number. The December 30 number is from the archives.
The reported seasonally-adjusted number on January 6 reporting was 409,000. It was revised up but no one saw that revision.
The reason no one can easily spot revisions is the weekly report only gives the latest 3 weeks. I calculated January 6th number from the 4-week moving average, now reported as 428,750.
A similar calculation looking at the January 20 Weekly Claims Report shows that December 30, was revised up from 388,000 to 391,000. These are small revisions but even large ones would be hard to spot if you do did not do the math or go to the archives.
Computing the Missing Number and Hidden Revisions
The 4-week moving average is constructed from the current 4 weeks. However the report only shows 3 weeks. To compute the week not shown, take the 4-week moving average (SA) and multiply by 4. Subtract the last three weeks shown on the report. What remains is the hidden 4th week used to compute the 4-week moving average.
Moreover, the difference between that number and was was originally reported for that number is a hidden revision.
Gaming the 4-Week Moving Average
If you want to pace a bet on whether the 4-week moving average will rise or fall, you need to know the number to beat and how to calculate it.
The number to beat is the missing number (as described above), about to roll off. In this case, 411,000.
Assuming no revisions, a number higher than 411,000 will cause next week’s 4-week moving average to rise. A number below 411,000 will cause next week’s 4-week moving average to drop.
My guess is the 4-week moving average will rise next week and fall the following week when the January 13 of 447,000 rolls off the report.
Clearly, if you are attempting to predict such numbers, it is critical to look at the number about to roll off.
What’s With The Ping-Pong?
Charting America’s Transformation To A Part-Time Worker Society, Following 6 Straight Months Of Full Time Job Declines
by ilene - December 13th, 2010 7:46 pm
It is surprising that over the past several years very little has been said in the popular media about the fact that America is slowly (but surely) transforming from a full-time to part-time employed society. And while much has been said about the temporary and now past impact of census hiring, and government jobs on the workforce, there are still few mentions in mainstream media that since the depression started in December 2007, America has lost 10.5 million full time jobs, offset by a 2.8 million increase in part time jobs. Two recent mentions of this extremely troubling phenomenon were those by David Stockman, who characterized the recent unjustified economic (and naturally market) euphoria in terms that could have come straight from David Rosenberg‘s mouth, and, more recently, Van Hoisington. And since the Teleprompter in Chief has now made it a monthly pilgirmage to extol the NFP number no matter how manipulated by Birth-Death and seasonal adjustments, perhaps next time someone can ask him why the US not only lost 478k seasonally adjusted full time workers in November but has lost full time jobs for 6 months in a row, for a total of 1.6 million job losses! And since it is now clear that Americans only watch cartoons when it comes to financial reporting, and, at worst, demand a chart, here is, straight from the BLS’ table A-9, the historical change of the US labor force.
And here is the sequential change in both full and part-time jobs. Note that after peaking in April and May, full time jobs have declined for 6 straight months:
In a nutshell: in December 2007 there were 121.7 million full time jobs, while 24.8 million Americans were part-time workers for economic reasons; fast forward to November 2010 where we find that 111.1 million employees are now full time, while the rank of the part-times have increased to 27.6 million. And it is not rocket science, that converting a population to part-time workers has a disastrous impact on wealth. As Stockman presented previously, discussing part-time employment "with an average wage of $20,000 a year, that is not a breadwinning job, you can’t support a family on that, you can’t save on that. Those jobs will not…
by ilene - December 9th, 2010 6:40 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
Has the Federal Reserve become the Central Bank of the World? That is what some members of Congress are asking after the Federal Reserve revealed the details of 21,000 transactions stretching from December 2007 to July 2010 that totaled more than $3 trillion on Wednesday. Most of these transactions involved giant loans that were nearly interest-free from the Federal Reserve to some of the largest banks, financial institutions and corporations all over the world.
In fact, it turns out that foreign banks and foreign corporations received a very large share of these bailouts. So has the Federal Reserve now become a completely unaccountable global bailout machine? Sadly, the truth is that we would have never learned the details of these bailouts if Congress had not forced this information out of the Fed. So what other kinds of jaw-dropping details would be revealed by a full audit of the Federal Reserve?
It is important to try to understand exactly what went on here. Banks and corporations from all over the globe were allowed to borrow gigantic piles of money essentially for free. Yes, when you are getting interest rates such as 0.25 percent, the money is essentially free. These loans were not available to everyone. You or I could not have run over to the Federal Reserve and walked away with tens of billions of dollars in loans that were nearly interest-free. Rather, it was only the megabanks and megacorporations that are friendly with the Federal Reserve that were able to take advantage of these bailouts.
In this way, the Federal Reserve is now essentially acting like some kind of financial god. They decide who survives and who fails. Dozens and dozens and dozens of small to mid-size U.S. banks are failing, but the Federal Reserve does not seem to have much compassion for them. It is only when the "too big to fail" establishment banks are in trouble that the Federal Reserve starts handing out gigantic sacks of nearly interest-free cash.
Just think about it. Which financial institution do you think is in a better competitive position – one that must survive on its own, or
by ilene - December 3rd, 2010 4:54 pm
Courtesy of Jesse’s Americain Cafe
Reality briefly penetrated the fog of appearance this morning as US Non-Farm Payrolls came in at 39,000, a significant miss from the expected 150,000. Unemployment ticked up higher from 9.5% to 9.8%.
An analysis of the data showed a slight indication that the recovery has stuttered and stopped, but it will take a few more months data to confirm this.
The adjustments seems to dampen the potential headline number but are within bounds of the prior six years. The Birth Death Model actually came in negative which was a bit of an outlier but certainly a refreshing nod to reality.
Looking at the historical Oct-Nov growth in the unadjusted numbers for the past six years shows a clear downward trend from the high in November 2005, with the low coming in November 2008. The growth as it stands in 2010 is roughly the same as it was in 2004, although the 2010 numbers will likely be revised in the next two reports.
Stocks and the Dollar initially plunged on the news while gold rallied threatening to take out psychological resistance at 1400. I guess we now know why gold and silver were obviously hit by sharp manipulative selling yesterday, in order to take the prices down below breakout levels. Be on watch for shenanigans in the markets today, especially the SP futures markets.
There can be no sustained economic recovery until the median wage and employment improve and this requires specific reforms and programs to repair the damage caused by twenty years of irresponsible monetary, regulatory, and fiscal policy and a growing imbalance in the balance sheets of the middle class. Repairing the status quo merely restores the unsustainable.
The Fed’s approach to quantitative easing is nothing more than an adjunct to the trickle down, supply-side approach. Provide money to the banks and the people will borrow; provide subsidies and tax cuts to those who have the most already and the condition of the many will improve. Trickle down, supply side, and efficient markets hypothesis are at best mistaken economic theories, and at worst coldly calculated propaganda by the same people who co-opted the political process and brought forward the control frauds that led to the financial crisis.
by ilene - December 3rd, 2010 3:56 pm
Tyler Durden presents Rosie’s Must Read On A Hope-Based Rally Now, Followed By Shock Therapy Later. This is practically in answer to Joshua Brown’s depiction of a lonely, frustrated bear searching the world for negative data. Frustrated, perhaps; lonely, not so fast. – Ilene
Courtesy of Zero Hedge
Now that his relentless skepticism, following today’s abysmal data release (orchestrated or not), has been fully validated, much to the chagrin of top ticking flippers such as Goldman and other sundry blog sites, Rosenberg comes out with a must read essay on the state of the economy now versus later, entitled very appropriately "Hope-Based Rally Now, Shock Therapy Later." This is certainly one Rosie’s better pieces out there and a must read for those who refuse to be led by the propaganda machine into believing lies and manipulation: "This has become such a hope-based market that the Dow jumped over 100 points earlier this week on a Reuters news story in Brussels, which reported that the U.S.A. would back an even greater financial commitment to Europe! Quick — get Sarah Palin on the line." Incidentally, if there is any confusion where Zero Hedge stands, we suggest rereading our post from last night which made it all too clear that we still refuse to drink the hopium (and self-aggrandizement) that seems to have gotten straight to the head of such a broad (literally and metaphorically) cross-section of the financial punditry.
HOPE-BASED RALLY NOW, SHOCK THERAPY LATER
I’m on the way back from a two-day business trip in London, U.K. with a few of my Gluskin Sheff colleagues. It’s been a good year-and-a-half since I was last there (the next best thing to old New York), and the first time I can remember it snowing this early — a few centimetres almost shut down the city (enough to make a Torontonian chuckle).
While we continue to refrain from hyperventilating as others throw in the towel, it is completely understandable that investor sentiment has improved. Moreover, the incoming economic data, at least when benchmarked against the double-dip fears that prevailed in July and August, currently look “green shooty” in nature. But is the U.S. economy really out of the woods? Hardly.
by ilene - December 3rd, 2010 3:31 pm
Courtesy of Bondsquawk
The November employment report came in weaker than expected with a 39k gain in payrolls after an upward-revised 172k increase in October. Private hiring increased 50k after a 160k gain, the weakest reading since the spring although it would appear there are some seasonal adjustment issues as retail hiring rose 13k in October and dropped 28k in November. The October reading appears to have been firmer than the underlying trend while the November reading is likely below trend, smoothing through this the 3-month average of private hiring slowed to 107k from 138k but has been tracking just above 100k since August. The report also highlights some of the seasonal adjustment problems that have led to a downtrend in initial jobless claims. These difficulties have meant that claims have been providing unreliable signals throughout this year. The household survey has been considerably weaker than the payroll survey showing a loss of 173k jobs in November after a 330k loss in October. With labor force participation steady at 64.5% the job loss in the household survey led the unemployment rate to jump to 9.8% from 9.6%, the highest since April highlighting the underlying slack in the economy that motivated the Fed to initiate QE2. The U6 unemployment rate held steady at 17.0%. Average hourly earnings were flat leading the annual pace to slow to 1.6% from 1.7% and aggregate hours worked ticked up 0.1% after a 0.4% gain suggesting slower gains in wage and salary income. The report highlights the headwinds facing the US economy as the boost from inventories fades and other sectors are slow to pick up the slack.
Courtesy: BNP Paribas
20 Statistics That Prove That Global Wealth Is Being Funneled Into The Hands Of The Elite – Leaving Most Of The Rest Of The World Wretchedly Poor
by ilene - November 30th, 2010 10:07 am
Michael Snyder provides "20 Statistics That Prove That Global Wealth Is Being Funneled Into The Hands Of The Elite – Leaving Most Of The Rest Of The World Wretchedly Poor." He argues that what we have now is a world dominated by a small group of ultra-wealthy elitists. The larger group of "middle managers" do their bidding and are paid well for it. Then we have workers, a larger group, but by far the largest group is the several billions of "useless eaters." - Ilene
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
Today global wealth is more highly concentrated in the hands of the elite than it ever has been at any other point in modern history. Once upon a time, the vast majority of the people in the world knew how to grow their own food, raise their own animals and take care of themselves. There weren’t many that were fabulously wealthy, but there was a quiet dignity in having land you could call your own or in having a skill that you could turn into a business. Sadly, over the past several decades an increasingly growing percentage of agricultural land has been gobbled up by big corporations and by corrupt governments. Hundreds of millions of people have been pushed off their land and into highly concentrated urban areas.
Meanwhile, it has become increasingly difficult to start a business of your own as monolithic global corporations have come to dominate nearly every sector of the world economy. So more people than ever around the world are forced to work for "the system" just to make a living. At the same time, those at the very top of the food chain (the elite) have spent decades rigging the system to ensure that increasing amounts of wealth will continue to flow into their pockets. So now in 2010 we have a global system where a few elitists at the top are insanely wealthy while about half the people living on earth are wretchedly poor.
There are very few nations around the world that have not been almost entirely plundered by the global elite. When the elite speak of "investing" in poor countries, what they really mean is taking control of the land, water, oil and other natural resources. In dozens of nations around the world today, big global corporations are stripping fabulous amounts of wealth out of the…
Large Companies Hiring, Small Companies Not; Federal Hiring Strong, States Cutting Back; Proposed Solutions; Bright Side of Fed Policies
by ilene - November 22nd, 2010 5:45 pm
Unfortunately, after reading Mish’s article "Large Companies Hiring, Small Companies Not; Federal Hiring Strong, States Cutting Back; Proposed Solutions; Bright Side of Fed Policies," most of us are not going to be happy about what Mish calls the bright side. – Ilene
Courtesy of Mish
A recent Gallup survey suggests Larger U.S. Companies Are Hiring; Smallest Are Not
Gallup finds that larger companies are hiring more workers while the smallest businesses are shedding jobs. More than 4 in 10 employees (42%) at workplaces with at least 1,000 employees reported during the week ending Nov. 14 that their company was hiring, while 22% said their employer was letting people go. At the other extreme, 9% of workers in businesses with fewer than 10 employees said their employer was hiring, and 16% said their employer was letting people go.
This Gallup question about company size is new, so it is unclear whether this pattern is a continuation of, or a change from, the past.
Hiring Also Much Higher at the Federal Government
The federal government is hiring more employees than it is letting go, while the opposite is true for state and local governments. More than 4 in 10 federal employees (42%) say their organizations are adding people and 21% say they are letting workers go. In contrast, state and local government employees report a net loss of workers.
Pitfalls, Flaws, Observations
There are huge flaws in the survey as well as a potential for additional flaws in analyzing the survey results. Nonetheless there are some important observations that can be made.
For starters, it is nice to see large corporations hiring, but there is no indication of by how much. Is the total headcount hiring 1 or hiring 2,000? Is the number up or down from last month?
Compounding that lack of information, we have seasonal flaws. Many retailers are now ramping up hiring for the Christmas season. So… is the hiring temporary or permanent?
The survey does not say. Moreover it does not say why they are hiring. Is business expanding or is this a short-term need?
That aside, the survey is not useless by any means. If this expansion was getting stronger, the number of companies hiring would be going up. It is not. Worse yet, small businesses which are the lifeblood of job creation, have not participated in the hiring…
by ilene - November 17th, 2010 4:42 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Rising costs and taxes and declining income have mugged Main Street while Wall Street revels in the Fed-engineered "recovery"--in the stock market.
The Fed would have us believe that the stock market is the leading indicator of the economy: if stocks are rising, then that is strong evidence the economy is improving.
This is the bogus "wealth effect" I have taken pains to discredit:
Fraud and Complicity Are Now the Lifeblood of the Status Quo (Nov. 12, 2010)
Fed’s QE2 Misadventure Costs U.S. Households $4.6 trillion (Nov. 10, 2010)
Main Street didn’t buy "the stock market is rising, so you must be richer" either, for the simple reason that Main Street’s wallet is now much thinner. Even as the S&P 500 has soared 80% from its March 2009 lows, 70% of Americans don’t believe the recession is over.
That must really hurt the apparatchiks in the Ministry of Propaganda and the Fed. Here they go to all this trouble to orchestrate a bogus stock market rally and Mainstream Media propaganda campaign hyping "the recovery," and Main Street America refused to buy it. How irksome.
It seems Main Street’s grasp on reality is firmer than that of either the Fed or its partner, Wall Street.
Let’s consider income.
The stock market rally off the March 2009 lows was by some measures the sharpest such advance in the past 100 years. Yet as stocks went on a tear,household income actually declined. According to the Census Bureau, the median household income fell 0.7% to $49,777 in 2009, down 4.2% since pre-recession 2007.
The Federal Reserve’s stated policy objective is to boost the stock market to trigger a "wealth effect" which will then lead consumers to open their wallets.
As noted here before, the Fed failed to notice that only the top 10% of households hold enough stocks to see much benefit from a rising market. Household income actually fell, despite the huge run-up in stocks.
In other words, a rising stock market did not increase household incomes. The Fed is gambling on an effect with no evidence to support it.
How about jobs?