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Final Pre-election Jobs Reports

3:23 pm in Economy, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

Employment Population Ratio, Participation and Unemployment Rates (calculatedriskblog.com)

This week has seen the final jobs reports that will be available to make a possibly measurable impact prior to November 6. Wednesday’s report from ADP had 162K new private sector jobs. Yesterday’s (Thursday, October 4) Jobless claims report had a slight increase to 367K new jobless claims and 4 week rolling average of 375K new claims. Finally, today’s (Friday, October 5) Bureau of Labor Statistics report has an increase of 114,000 jobs for September and the jobless rate falling to 7.8%.

It seems the fall in the overall unemployment rate has some folks on the right, led by Neutron Jack Welch, claiming the numbers have been cooked. David Dayen at FDL News puts it this way:

Because data is just fungible to the political leanings of whoever confronts it, we predictably saw a number of conservatives question today’s jobs report, suggesting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics fudged the data to help the President’s re-election campaign. Leading this charge was former GE CEO Jack Welch on Twitter. I think the government should make a deal with Welch – they’ll admit to massaging the data if he cleans up all the PCBs in the Hudson River personally.

On a more serious note, this is really pretty outrageous, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, whose department includes the BLS, is right to be insulted. The BLS is a civil service agency that until recently was still run by a Bush appointee. It now has a career bureaucrat in charge. The political team plays no role whatsoever in the derivation of or announcement of the jobs data. And if, despite all this, BLS cooked the books, they’re terrible at it, because they shifted the data in the household survey without corresponding in the establishment survey.

My WAG on this is that the adjustment of the number of jobs for July and August probably had as much affect on the September jobless rate as the actual numbers for September. As far as I can see, this opinion piece from Jay Schalin at Fox News pretty much covers the basic point of the “unemployment” figures:

One thing the current economic slump has made painfully clear is that the unemployment rate is an imperfect tool for gauging the health of the economy. Washington should replace it with a more meaningful and useful benchmark: the labor-force participation rate.

The widely publicized unemployment rate, eagerly awaited each month by pundits and policy wonks, has become little more than a shell game in which officials keep the public guessing about the real state of the economy.

Please do go and read the entire piece, he makes some excellent points.

One item that I find still glaringly obvious is that for the most part, most of the people in charge or talking about jobs and the economy have no more clue about what is happening than they do about what the surface of the moon feels like. Just the past few days, I have seen these headlines as I have surfed the toobz (links embedded in headlines):

I think the bottom line point here is any attempt to tie jobs reports, favorable or unfavorable, to the stock market is attempting so much witch craft. There IS no connection or the stock market would not be trading. As Reuters reported back in August, the market is up for the Obama administration by 74% since he took office January 2009:

At 1,400, the S&P 500 on Friday was closing in on a four-year high and was up 74 percent since January 20, 2009, the day Obama took office. Not since Dwight Eisenhower’s first term has a president had such a strong run for their first term.

As most folks reading this know, I am and have been among the long term un/underemployed. The reality for me and many millions of others is, we want to work in decent paying jobs, preferably in our chosen career fields. The dithering in DeeCee from both sides of the aisle, the constant calls for cuts to the budget, “Grand Bargains” to “save” Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (especially the non-existent “Bowles-Simpson” plan since there was no formal report and plan adopted by their namesake committee) personally drives me nuckin’ futz. As Mr Pierce often says, “Fck the deficit. People got no jobs. People got no money.”

It really is a simple concept. People want to work. We want to work at decent paying jobs with halfway decent benefits and contribute to the overall commonweal of the nation. Working two or three part time barely above minimum wage jobs does NOT fit this definition.

And because I can:

Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor

Sometimes I Hate It When I’m Right: Jobless Claims Jump Sharply

10:11 am in Economy, Financial Crisis, Government, Jobs, Media, Unemployment by dakine01

Last week when the Jobs Reports for December 2010 came out, I was a bit skeptical:

But you will pardon me if I’m a bit skeptical about this wonderful news. December is a time when there are a lot of short term hires due to the holiday season. I assume that ADP does make some adjustment for the seasonal factor and while 297K new jobs is definitely a good start, as I (and others) have noted recently, even if those jobs are something more than short term, minimum wage positions for the holidays, the odds are good that a lot of them are of the Perma-Temp fashion, with limited to no benefits. So I guess I’m going to hold off on the cheerleading the report.

Well, today (January 13) Initial Jobless Claims Report seems to bear out my skepticism. From CNN:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits jumped sharply last week, two weeks after hitting a 2-1/2 year low below 400,000.

There were 445,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Jan. 8, the Labor Department said in a weekly report Thursday.

That’s up 35,000 from a revised 410,000 the previous week — when jobless claims climbed back above 400,000 after falling below that mark for the first time in more than two years.

Last week’s rise was bigger than expected. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast initial claims to edge up to 415,000 in the latest report.

Of course, Economists were “surprised” at the news. What else is new. Economists are always surprised. I guess they missed the article from the AP yesterday (via MSNBC) that employers were posting fewer jobs in November.

Of course, the Federal Reserve is still in ostrich mode. From Reuters yesterday:

The Fed reported better conditions across all 12 of its districts, though banking and financial services showed results that varied by region.

“Economic activity continued to expand moderately from November through December,” the central bank said in a statement.

The findings were consistent with a recent pick-up in U.S. economic data that has prompted some economists to beef up their forecasts for growth in the first half of 2011.

The U.S. economy grew 2.6 percent in the third quarter, a level considered too meek to put a significant dent in the nation’s 9.4 percent jobless rate.

So things are getting better but not better enough to actually show any improvements in things. Yeah, that works.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →