Posts Tagged ‘Census Bureau’

Census Bureau Reports Fictional Nonsense About Retail Sales

Census Bureau Reports Fictional Nonsense About Retail Sales

Courtesy of Mish

NEW YORK - MARCH 01: A woman looks in a window advertising a sale in the SoHo shopping district of Manhattan March 1, 2010 in New York City. Consumer spending numbers tracked slightly higher in January, leading some economists to conclude that the economy is shakily regaining footing. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Today the Census Bureau posted its Advance Monthly Retail Sales and Food Services Report for June 2010.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for June, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $360.2 billion, a decrease of 0.5 percent from the previous month, but 4.8 percent above June 2009.

Total sales for the April through June 2010 period were up 6.8 percent from the same period a year ago. The April to May 2010 percent change was revised from -1.2 percent to -1.1 percent.

Retail trade sales were down 0.6 percent from May 2010, but 5.0 percent above last year. Nonstore retailers sales were up 12.1 percent from June 2009 and gasoline stations sales were up 8.8 percent from last year.

Hogwash

The only believable number in the report is gasoline sales. Otherwise the problem is in Census Bureau methodology.

The advance estimates are based on a subsample of the Census Bureau’s full retail and food services sample. A stratified random sampling method is used to select approximately 5,000 retail and food services firms whose sales are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of over three million retail and food services firms. Responding firms account for approximately 65% of the MARTS dollar volume estimate.

The methodology misses stores that went out of business and have no retail sales. Circuit City is a prime example but also note that thousands of small strip mall stores are now shuttered as well. Some of that volume went to the surveyed stores making it appear sales went up.

The only accurate way of computing retail sales is to look at state sales tax data. Even then, tax data can be misleading because one needs to factor in changes in tax policy, notably states increasing sales tax rates.

For example, a rise in the sales tax rate from 7% to 8% would result in a 14% increase in sales tax collections (all other things being equal).

The Rockefeller Institute reports "The growth in state tax revenues is not an indication of broad state fiscal recovery, but is mostly driven by legislated changes [massive tax increases] in two states — California and New York."

Please see Rockefeller
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Inventories are now rising

Inventories are now rising

Courtesy of Edward Harrison of Credit Writedowns

The Census Bureau came out this morning with a report on “Manufacturer’s Shipments, Inventories and Orders” for October. The report was bullish as it showed new orders for manufactured goods rising for the sixth time in seven months. But, more importantly, it also showed that manufacturers are adding inventory which means that production is now outstripping demand, adding to upside potential for GDP this quarter.

The report states:

New orders for manufactured goods in October, up six of the last seven months, increased $2.1 billion or 0.6 percent to $360.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 1.6 percent September increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5 percent.

Shipments, up four of the last five months, increased $3.1 billion or 0.8 percent to $368.0 billion. This followed a 1.3 percent September increase.

Unfilled orders, down thirteen consecutive months, decreased $2.9 billion or 0.4 percent to $730.8 billion. This was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992. This followed a 0.4 percent September decrease. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 5.82, up from 5.79 in September.

Inventories, up following thirteen consecutive monthly decreases, increased $1.8 billion or 0.4 percent to $493.0 billion. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.34, down from 1.35 in September.

While inventories have been pared less slowly in the past, they have now dropped to the point where producers are increasing production so much they are adding inventories.

We should expect this to increase hours worked and income for existing workers first. Only then will temp staff and then permanent staff be taken on.  Nevertheless, this is another welcome sign of recovery.

Full Report on Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories and Orders, October 2009 (pdf) – U.S. Census Bureau

 


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The Real Memo Out Of The Bureau Of Lies And Statistics

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

The Real Memo Out Of The Bureau Of Lies And Statistics

"We’re leveling off! We’re leveling off!"—so is the hope of TTT, Helicopter Ben, Larry the Wall Street Lackey and the rest of Team Obama. "This recession is leveling off!"

No it’s not: The unemployment figures just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are totally cosmetic: We lost a whole lot more than 531,000 unemployed.

First, the "seasonal adjustment", which is a black box that can tweek me into looking like Dumbo the flying elephant. They’re knocking off ±65,000 workers for no clearly discernible reason. Second, notice that the Census Bureau hired 60,000 people last month. Those workers (by definition) are temporary, and are a net cost to the economy, as they will not be adding marginal utility to any economic sector, the census being merely a social expenditure.

Those two items alone turn 530,000 new unemployed into 655,000.

Now notice how, once again, previous months’ figures have been readjusted. This time, the readjustments weren’t so bad—a mere 30,000 more unemployed in February, turning that month’s official totals to 681,000, and another 30,000 for March, making that month’s official number 699,000, just shy of that magic 700,000 monthly number (BTW, remember back in the good old days when 300,000 monthly unemployed was"shocking"?)

But notice too: When those more realistic numbers were released, the markets were more or less copacetic—at least they weren’t nervously contemplating another suicidal round of cliff-diving, as we currently are. Ever since the October ’08 release of Sept. ’08 unemployment, when arguably the BLS numbers had a role in triggering the sell-off of that very nasty month, the unemployment numbers have been generally rosy whenever there’s been general nervousness in the markets around the time of the number’s release. I know this sounds crazy-man paranoid, but bear with me: Every time the markets have been nervous,the BLS numbers look pretty good, or at least not that bad, relatively speaking—and then the next month the figures are very quietly revised, sometimes by as much as 35% on the upward side.

I will bet one double Quarter Pounder with cheese and bacon that next month, the revisions of the April numbers will be on the order of an additional 85,000 unemployed. My guess is that, discounting the Census Bureau hirings, April saw 680,000 newly unemployed workers.

That would


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