Thursday, September 8, 2011

Unemployment Claims

Longtime readers know that we are expert linguists specializing in the field of decoding news releases that trick most market participants.  This skill was developed over many years and requires copious amounts of practice before fluency can be obtained.

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their weekly unemployment claims data at 08:30 EST.  The market seems to pay attention to this number even though we have shown again and again how it is manipulated on a level that would embarrass even Soviets leaders.

First lets have a look at the Reuters headline:
Notice how they place the word "Unexpectedly" in the lead off sentence.  We are curious as to who was expecting claims to decrease?

Last Thursday the BLS released weekly claims of 409,000 and today they announced that number after revision was actually 412,000.  It is more than common for the BLS to wait for the headline number to sink in before adding the 1-3% required to reach their actual count.  This tactic is also commonly used by guilty teenagers who slowly reveal the truth piece by piece in an effort to dilute the parental reaction.

Next, move to the bottom of the release for a puzzle that even has us confused.  The word "Eased" was added for political effect as they want to foster the perception that the long term situation is improving.  Continuing Claims, or people still unemployed, is defined by as:
What confused us about this definition is that the last sentence of the article says that there are 7,170,000 people receiving benefits.  How can there only be 3,720,000 continuing claims when there are double that number receiving checks?  What is even more confusing is that the August BLS data states that there are 14,000,000 unemployed persons.

Another often overlooked tactic employed by the BLS is use of The Birth Death Model.  This economic stroke of brilliance subtracts an arbitrary number of people from the claims data under the assumption that business formation took place outside the scope of survey data.
This assumption could only be made by people who do not spend any time in the real economy.  Take a walk down Main Street and see how much new business formation is going on.  The most popular new occupation we notice is panhandling which requires no licensing, insurance, taxes or liability of any kind.  Every corner seems to be hotly contested as the ranks of the beggars continue to swell.  We often wonder how many of these enterprising beggars are also collecting benefits?

What you may be noticing is that the BLS has created many definitions in order to mask the true number out of work.  Here is a list of defined categories that can be found in any BLS release:

  • Initial Claims
  • Continuing Claims
  • Long-Term Unemployed
  • Part Time Unemployed For Economic Reasons
  • Marginally Attached To The Labor Force
  • Discouraged Workers
The labor force is currently reported at 153,600,000.  This means 49% of the people in America can work.  That leaves 51% that do nothing for various reasons. 

Instead of being tossed around by news driven market gyrations try to develop the ability to think for yourself.  Give up on the dream that government agencies have your best interests at heart.  You will one day learn that their motives are to stay in power or retain their own employment.  Their news releases should be read accordingly.

1 comment:

Romocop said...

"This assumption could only be made by people who do not spend any time in the real economy."