Employment Numbers: A Moving Target

On Thursday, April 24th, Reuters carried a headline Jobless claims fall unexpectedly that provided an interesting contrast to the story from Friday April 18th entitled Wall St. braces for thousands of pink slips.

From the first article cited above, we get this lede:

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. workers filing initial claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell by 33,000 last week, the Labor Department said on Thursday, though the number of workers remaining on jobless benefits continued at a high level.
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Yet, the article from Friday April 18th was quite a bit more forboding:

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc, Merrill Lynch & Co and Wachovia Corp this week announced 12,400 job cuts, and the number of pink slips is likely to rise as losses mount and the economy works its way out of its malaise.

[...snip...]

Job losses will surge well beyond the current level, given that the latest data does not account for widely expected cuts among the 14,000 employees at Bear Stearns Cos following the investment bank's pending takeover by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

[...snip...]

Global financial institutions have so far sustained well over $200 billion of write-downs and credit-related losses, with the ailing U.S. housing market a central catalyst.

[...snip...]

Already, Marenzi expects at least 100,000 job losses at U.S. commercial banks, or companies that lend or collect deposits. That figure could rise to between 150,000 and 200,000 in the next 12 to 18 months, he said.
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Without even having to look too closely, however, it's not difficult to determine why the recent report appears to clash with the earlier one: timing.

The article from 18 April talks about the future of the job market as the economy continues to spiral down and institutions post record losses; the article from today discusses the expectations that analysts had leading into the week of April 12 -- the week preceding the April 18 piece.

If these articles were to be placed in reverse order, they would paint an ever-darkening picture of our short and medium term economic and employment outlook.

An Aside to the Bush Administration and Bush Republicans: Yes, Mr. Bush, we are in a slowdown: a severe one. There's a term for it -- it's recession. If it gets much worse before it is addressed responsibly, it could become a worldwide depression. And because of your inability to properly comprehend it and the habit of denial and band-aid approaches that your Administration and the Congressional Republicans have taken in hopes of leaving the burgeoning mess in lap of the next (presumably Democratic) Administration, the problem is likely to get a whole lot worse before anything is done to address it intelligently.

Just like all the other problems that have been exacerbated by your criminal neglect and malfeasance.

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For further reference, you may want to check out Tony Wikrent's Euthanize Wall Street to save the economy and GreyHawk's Gouged Out: The Consumer and the Gas Station Operator.
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then what are the true numbers for unemployment?

I thought the following was interesting information. Includes a chart showing three different measures of inflation: pre-1983, pre-1998, and current method.

Using the pre-1983 measure, were at 11.6% inflation.

The Fed's inflation gauge isn't realistic, critics say
By Dean Calbreath

Williams, who runs Shadow Government Statistics in Oakland, which tracks changes in inflation, unemployment, the gross national product and other data, said that over the past 25 years, the government has changed the method of calculating price increases in ways that have lowered the reported inflation rate.

The changes include measuring the cost of shelter by rental prices instead of home values, as well as giving nearly as much weight to high-ticket items such as cars and electronics as to daily necessities such as food and gasoline.

According to Williams, if the government measured inflation based on pre-1982 methods, it would be running at 11.6 percent right now, or 7.3 percent using pre-1998 calculations.

Via the Big Picture, Is the Fed Causing a Global Food Crisis?

surprising, considering that there's a lot of soldiers in the National Guard who are getting re-upped, and the Bush Admin immediately upon taking office started changing the various methods of reporting labor. It's like they knew they were going to have to artificially inflate the numbers, so they've been cooking the books for a while.

As for the "global food crisis" article, there's a couple of thoughts I have on that -- none good.

I'll post a related article shortly about that.

Thanks, Susie. :)

that they are meaningless anymore. Inflation indexes leave out energy and food because otherwise they would be too "volatile." Jobless numbers only track folks who file claims and then for only X number of weeks, since once they are unemployed any longer than X weeks, they are hardcore unemployed and not worth tracking!

Tony Wikrent's article is really worth another reference, since it does some heavy lifting here: Euthanize Wall Street

I am going back to the garden where you know if you are successful when the danged seeds sprout, not when some numskull number crunchers who've never had dirt under their fingernails calculate the odds of rock, scissors, or paper.

Not only did Susie make one, above, but I've got an article upcoming that also expands upon it.

I think BushCo's cooked books are finally beginning to smolder and spark; they can't hide their false numbers any longer, and the damage they've done is beginning to erupt.

One of the interesting things about economics is the statistics that you never hear.

How often do you ever hear a statistical breakdown of the NET WORTH of Americans?

Of course the more net worth a person has the less he needs a job.

How often do you hear the percentage of Americans that actually have their homes PAYED FOR? But people that are actually paying mortgages are called HOME OWNERS. You don't own it until it's PAYED FOR. If you are paying a mortgage you are just a tenant that has to fix the plumbing and leaky roof himself.

When do you hear the total depreciation lost on the 230,000,000 cars in the United States? What does that do to the the NET WORTH of Americans?

Burn the economists at the stake. LOL

Kill an economist for Karl

It would be awesome if you would do a primer of these key basic economic truths. We probably all could use a little reminder.

Love to see you do a commentary on Economics 101 for the average citizen!