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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Weekly Initial Jobless Unemployment Claims Decline

Initial unemployment (jobless) claims continued their decline for the week ending March 22nd. 311,000 first time claims were filed, a number solidly in the range of first time claims back in August and September 2013, before the federal government shutdown in October. 

We were sure that layoffs were really down, lower than they had been since early 2007, in the late summer, as can be seen on the graph below.

The government shutdown in October reversed that, at least temporarily, as initial unemployment claims spiked. The numbers started declining as soon as the government was back to work, but the numbers didn't get down to those late summer lows.

Then initial claims spiked the week after Thanksgiving, probably due to seasonal adjustments and the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The numbers then declined until mid-January, jumped a bit and have declined again started a solid decline.  We don't know how much of an impact the severe winter, which impacted just about the whole country, had on initial claims in January and February.  

Weekly unemployment initial claims decreased by 1,000 this week, the week ending March 22nd, to 311,000 after increasing by 6,000 last week.  

(Even though the weekly initial claims numbers are seasonally adjusted, these numbers are always a bit volatile and should only be analyzed in terms of a trend over a period of weeks.  See the graph above.)

The four-week moving average # of claims, which smooths some of the week-to-week volatility, decreased.  The moving average decreased by 9,500 last week after increasing by 15,750 the week before.  It is now 317,750.

Overall, initial claims are now at about the same level they were six years ago, in late 2007 to very early 2008. (Unemployment claims started to climb in October through December 2007.)

the current report:
In the week ending March 22, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 311,000, a decrease of 10,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 321,000. The 4-week moving average was 317,750, a decrease of 9,500 from the previous week's revised average of 327,250.
First time unemployment claims decreased by 7,000 over those reported last week.  Last week's initial claims numbers were revised upwards by 1,000 claims.  There are usually slight upwards revisions  (1,000 to 3,000) in the numbers of initial claims in most weeks.  (The chart above shows REVISED claims numbers.)

Initial Claims Graph:

As usual, to put all of this into perspective, check out the 
red line on the chart at the top of the page to see where jobless claims are now, in 2014, compared to the past three years.

The chart at the top of the page is one of the BEST charts for understanding and observing changes in the weekly initial claims numbers over time.  This year (red:  2013-14) and the past three years (blue:  2010-11green:  2011-12 and black:  2012-13) are marked in different colors.  You can see that, as a trend, first time claims for unemployment have declined from one year to the next, even though there are variations within the year.  The number of initial unemployment claims had been on a downward trajectory in summer, but it increased steeply during October, then declined, then increased in the week after Thanksgiving, but has been generally declining since then, despite a spike last week.  

Be aware that:
  1. The graph above shows first time claims, so people who have continued to receive benefits or who have lost unemployment benefits are not counted in these numbers.  
  2. They are seasonally adjusted, so most variations caused by weather or holidays are already included in these numbers.  
  3. As these are weekly numbers, they are more volatile than the monthly numbers.
Continuing Claims?

For the week ending March 8th, 
3,306,871 people were receiving unemployment benefits under one of the programs that are available (regular state or a few other smaller programs).  This was a decrease of about 43,000 claims in total since the previous week.  Regular state claims (the first 19 to 26 weeks of claims) decreased by 45,000 claims; that is, the decline in regular state continuing claims accounted for most of the decrease in continuing claims for that week.  As the Federal Extended Benefits program (the "Tiers") have still not been renewed, nobody received has received those benefits since the week ending December 28th.  Though the Senate has worked out a deal to extend unemployment benefits, the Republicans in the House of Representatives have indicated that they will not bring that measure to a vote. 

For the week ending March 15th, seasonally adjusted continuing unemployment claims in the regular state program decreased by 53,000 claims after increasing by 28,000 the week before.  We now have 2,823,000 continuing claims.  The total number of continuing claims has stayed below 3,100,000 for about a year, since March 2013.  
(At the peak of the Crash, in early 2009, about 6,500,000 regular state claims were filed a week.)  

Benefits Now vs. a Year Ago?

About 2,150,000 FEWER people are receiving unemployment benefits now vs. one year ago.  Between 1 million and 1.4 million of these people are people who might be eligible for extended benefits if the program were available.  Let's remember that we do not know what has happened to the people who are no longer receiving benefits; we do not know how many of those two million plus people found employment, how many retired, and how many are still looking for work.  We do know that:

  • There are 1,802,000 MORE people reporting themselves as employed than a year ago.
  • There are  2,158,000 MORE non-farm jobs than a year ago.
  • We also know that a grand total of 54,285,000 hires have been made by employers between February 2013 and January 2014.  (Some people may have been hired more than once during the year, so the number of "hires" is generally higher than the number of additional people with jobs.)   
  • However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLTS (Job Openings, Layoffs, and Turnover Survey) for January 2013, we still have about 2.6 active jobseekers for every job opening out there (down from around 7 jobseekers for every job opening at the peak of the recession in late 2009.) 
  • The percent of unemployed people receiving benefits is now 30.36% for the week ending March 8th.  (A year ago, 46.2% of the unemployed were receiving benefits.)

If you are receiving benefits, you may be interested in these reports:  

People receiving benefits compared to total unemployment?

Total number of people receiving unemployment insurance is a very low 30.4% of the officially unemployed for the week ending March 8th.
The weekly report also tells us the total number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits.  For the week ending March 8th, 3,306,871 people were receiving unemployment benefits under one of the programs that are available (regular state, extended benefits, federal extended unemployment compensation, or a few other smaller programs). This compares with 10,893,000 people who are unemployed in unadjusted numbers according to the monthly February unemployment situation report which was released Friday, March 7th.  Those numbers, showing that only 30% of the officially unemployed are receiving benefits, should make it clear that people do NOT need to be receiving unemployment insurance to be counted among the unemployed.  (This ratio and these two numbers are NOT seasonally adjusted.)

Extended Benefits (EB) Still Not Available in any State; Federal Extended benefits (the Tiers) have not been restored.

Let's remember that, while a decrease in the number of people FILING for initial claims is a good thing and indicates that fewer people are being laid off, a decrease in the TOTAL number of people getting unemployment insurance may only show that fewer people are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Friday, March 7, 2014

What are initial weekly unemployment claims?

Under construction.  Please check back!

Jobs Created Lost February 2014

In February 2014:
  • 175,000 payroll jobs were ADDED in seasonally adjusted numbers.
  • 162,000 private payroll sector jobs were ADDED in seasonally adjusted numbers.
  • 13,000 government sector (federal, state, and local) jobs were ADDED in seasonally adjusted numbers. 

February 2014 jobs numbers and unemployment reports were released Friday, March 7th.  

This is a summary; details will be added to this report soon.  Please check back for more information.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

February 2014 Unemployment Rate; Jobs

February 2014 Jobs Numbers and Unemployment Rate were released Friday, March 7, 2014.  

February BLS Highlights:

  • Despite the miserable weather during February, the BLS reports that 175,000 payroll jobs were added, more than the 140,000 to 150,000 jobs expected by the "pundits".  
  • December jobs numbers were revised upwards by 9,000 and January numbers were revised upwards  by 16,000.  Job growth has averaged 189,000/month over the past 12 months.  
  • Private jobs increased by 162,000.
  • Government jobs increased by 13,000. 
  • Unemployment rate ticked back up to 6.7% (from 6.6%).  The unemployment rate increased due mostly to people re-entering or entering the labor force and starting to look for work.  (The unemployment rate comes from a different source than the number of jobs which is why the unemployment rate can increase even if the number of jobs increases.  Over time, these two numbers closely parallel each other.  The unemployment rate, however, is much more volatile than the jobs numbers.  Also, the unemployment rate is not directed related to the number of people getting unemployment benefits.  This is one of the biggest employment myths out there. MORE HERE.)   
  • The alternate unemployment rate (which includes part time workers who want full time jobs, discouraged workers, and marginally attached workers) DECREASED to 12.6%, a decrease of .1%, one-tenth of a percent.  This is the lowest that it has been since October 2008, over five years ago.  One year ago the alternate unemployment rate was 14.3%.   The change was due primarily to a decrease in the number of involuntary part-time workers; that is, the number of people working part-time because they can't find full-time work, and a decrease in the number of "marginally attached" workers; that is, those who are ready to take a job but who did not look for work for some reason during the month.     
  • The labor force increased by 264,000 in February.
  • The number of people employed, including agricultural and self-employed, increased 42,000 in February, with an increase of 163,000 employed full-time.
  • Since the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 in seasonally adjusted numbers:
    • 8.0 million MORE jobs in total
    • 8.7 million MORE private sector jobs
    • 7.2 million MORE people working* 
    Since Bush left office & Obama took office (January 2009) in seasonally adjusted numbers:
    • 3.7 million MORE jobs in total
    • 4.5 million MORE private sector jobs
    • 3.0 million MORE people working*

February 2014 reports to be published: (Notation on the links will be changed to "Updated for February" when the updated reports become available.) 

Jobs Lost Gained Past Year

February 2014 jobs numbers and unemployment reports were released this morning, Friday, March 7th.  

This report, of jobs gains and losses year over year from February 2013 to February 2014, will be available Friday afternoon.  Please check back for latest numbers and charts!

Private Govt Jobs Gained Lost Obama

February 2014 jobs numbers and unemployment reports were released this morning, Friday, March 7th.  

 Please check back for latest numbers and charts which are now under construction!

How Many Jobs Has Obama Created or Lost? (February 2014 update)

This report has been updated for March 2015 HERE:  How Many Jobs Have Been Created or Lost Under Obama?

How Many Jobs (Net) Created in 2014?

The numbers below are as of February 2014.  For current numbers, please click one of the above links.

How many NET jobs created or lost under Obama as of February 2014?  
How many private sector jobs have been lost or added during Obama's presidency?

How many new jobs in the last 5 years since Obama was inaugurated?  
How many Americans were working or employed when Obama took office... compared to now?

Numbers for February with latest revisions:

Since the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 8.0 million MORE jobs in total
  • 8.7 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 7.3 million MORE people working
How many workers were full-time or part-time at the "trough" of the recession in late 2009/early 2010 compared to now?

  • 7.3 million MORE people working full-time.
  • 149,000 FEWER people working part-time.  
  • (Yes, despite what you may have heard, from the depth of the recession until now, we have many more additional people working full-time vs. part-time jobs. When a recession hits, companies generally cut back on full-time workers first.  When companies start hiring again, the number of full-time workers increases.)

Since Bush left office & Obama took office (January 2009) in seasonally adjusted numbers:
  • 3.7 million MORE jobs in total
  • 4.5 million MORE private sector jobs
  • 3.1 million MORE people working

How many workers were full-time or part-time when Obama was inaugurated compared to now?

  • 2.0 million MORE people working full-time
  • 953,000 million MORE people working part-time  

Have any private jobs been lost (net) over the past 
48 months since February 2010?
  • 48 months of consecutive private-sector job growth.

Have any jobs been lost (net) over the past 41 months since September 2010?

  • 41 months of consecutive overall job growth.
Are more people unemployed now than when Obama took office in January 2009?  
  • Despite 1,514,000 MORE people in the labor force (either working or actively looking for work) now vs. January 2009, there are 1,599,000 FEWER people unemployed now than in January 2009. 

What's the difference between "net" and "gross" jobs gained and lost?

Let's get something straight:  Jobs are lost every week and every month. People are fired, people are laid off, businesses or locations are closed and everybody is let go. 

Also people quit every week.  You yourself, dear reader,  may have quit a job at some point in time. 

But people are also HIRED every week and every month.  New businesses open, businesses expand, businesses replace people who have left or been fired.  Every week.  You yourself, dear reader, may have been hired for a job at some point in time.This happens in good times and bad. 

Yes, even in bad times, people are getting hired.  Even in good times, people are let go.  

Now:  The monthly jobs reportupon which this article is based, presents estimates based on surveys as to how many jobs are gained or lost in a given month.  Those numbers are based on the number of new jobs (people getting hired, businesses opening) MINUS the number of jobs that have been cut (people getting fired, people quitting, businesses closing or cutting back).

The monthly jobs report therefore reports NET job growth or loss.  

For 41 months in this country, we have had MORE jobs being added than we have had jobs being cut.  For 48 months in the private sector (not counting federal workers, state or local workers such as teachers, firemen, cops, or people who staff the DMV, only counting people who work for private businesses), we have had MORE jobs added than we have had jobs being cut.

To reiterate:  How many jobs have been created in the last 5 years versus how many jobs have been lost?
All numbers provided on monthly jobs reports, which is what the series on jobs created/lost under Obama is based, are NET jobs numbers.  In other words, they reflect gains after all job losses are subtracted, or they reflect job losses after all gains are added. 
For the past 48 months (as of February 2014), we have had NET gains in private jobs numbers every month.  In other words, in every month since February 2010, more private jobs have been created than have been lost.  In every month since September 2010, more jobs in total have been created than have been lost.

Fact check and important information on these jobs numbers...

The above jobs numbers are from the BLS jobs report of February 2014, which was released in March 2014.  The surveys used to gather these numbers in February are taken as of the week which includes the 12th day of the month, in this case, February 12, 2014. 

What Was the Unemployment Rate When Obama Took Office (compared to now)? Updated for February 2014

What was the unemployment rate when Bush left office and Obama was inaugurated? 7.8%

What was the unemployment rate after Obama's first full month in office (February 2009)?  8.3%

What was the unemployment rate at peak?  10.0%

What is today's (February 2014's) unemployment rate?   6.7%  

All Latest Jobs and Unemployment Reports HERE

How many people were looking for work when Obama was inaugurated; how many were working?  And how many people are looking for work and how many are employed now?

  • Read below the graph.
  • The following chart shows the unemployment rate in three month intervals plus month-by-month for the latest months:


Why are there two lines, one for "Seas Adjusted" and one for "Unadjusted"?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses seasonal adjustments to adjust for the volatility in the labor market from one month to the next.  The relatively even declining red line above shows the unemployment rate based on seasonally adjusted numbers.  The jagged green line shows the unemployment rate based on "real", "raw" numbers; the unadjusted rate.  Notice that the green line goes up in January (after holiday layoffs) and July (school-related layoffs), and it goes down in October and April, which are strong months for workers.  (Employees are all back to school in October, and employers are staffing up for the holidays.  Schools are also full in April and employers are starting to staff up for summer, construction, vacation venues, etc.)  The red line helps us to compare the unemployment rate over a period of months; the green line, however, reflects "reality":  Your friends, neighbors, and family members actually working or not working.  

ADP Numbers Disappoint. Was it the Weather?

Is the recent miserable weather affecting the labor market?

The private payroll processor ADP released its monthly private sector jobs report today, and it was considered disappointing.  Notice how many private sector jobs were added (according to ADP) each month in the last 7 months of 2013.. .and how many were added in January and now in February 2014:    

From ADP's February report

Are numbers, in jobs, in manufacturing, in housing starts, somewhat disappointing over the past two months, due to the miserable winter that we've been having.. all over the United States? Many people, including Janet Yellen, the new head of the Federal Reserve, and the generic bunch of "traders" and "pundits" apparently believe it may be so.  Or they are at least are willing to wait and see what happens over the next two months as the weather hopefully improves.

The "pundits" predicted 155,000 new private sector jobs and we only got (according to ADP estimates) 139,000.  And ADP revised their 175,000 January estimate down to 127,000, much more in line with the January BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) private jobs number, which was 142,000.

The big jobs indicator, of course, is the BLS jobs release which we will see tomorrow, Friday, March 7.  Economists and "pundits" are predicting 145,000 to 150,000 new jobs total, private and government.  Pundits' estimates have been high the last two months; let's see how things go this month.  BLS numbers are based on the surveys taken the week that includes the 12th day of the month, which, if I recall, was cold and snowy throughout most of the country.  Yes, the weather during that (usually) second week of the month CAN affect jobs numbers, even if the rest of the month was reasonable.  But, alas, in February, the whole month didn't seem that reasonable.  However, initial unemployment claims for February did not increase appreciably over those for January, so employers may have been waiting out the cold and the snow as well before making any moves to reduce work forces.  February is traditionally a hiring month, with a good half a million jobs actually "added back" in "real" numbers.  

So stay tuned for tomorrow's numbers.