Weekly jobless claims drop after weekly upward revision

posted at 9:21 am on June 7, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The only thing more amusing than the weekly upward revisions in the initial weekly jobless claims are the media reports of significant drops afterward.  Today’s case in point is the “drop” to 377,000 from last week’s 383,000, which got revised upward to 389,000 — the 64th upward revision in 65 weeks:

In the week ending June 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 377,000, a decrease of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 389,000. The 4-week moving average was 377,750, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 376,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 2.6 percent for the week ending May 26, unchanged from the prior week’s unrevised rate.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending May 26 was 3,293,000, an increase of 34,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 3,259,000. The 4-week moving average was 3,279,500, an increase of 11,500 from the preceding week’s revised average of 3,268,000.

First, let’s make the extent of the increases and declines clear.  A drop from 383K to 377K would have been just slightly over 1%.  Going from 389K to 377 is a 3% change.  These are basically variations within the same statistical band.  It’s true that 377K is better than 389K, but it’s hardly a big shift in momentum — even if we could rely on the number, and not expect the DoL to upwardly revise it next week.

However, the AP called this a “sign of a stable job market” on its Twitter feed a few minutes after the release, and Reuters seems a little more excited by it (via Steve Eggleston):

The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits fell last week for the first time since April, a reminder that the wounded labor market is still slowly healing.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 377,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was spot on the median forecast in a Reuters poll.

The government revised the prior week’s figure up to 389,000 from the previously reported 383,000.

Prior to last week, claims had risen in four consecutive weeks, adding to concerns over several months of lackluster hiring data. While the country emerged from a deep recession three years ago, the jobless rate last month was 8.2 percent, well above its long-term historical average.

Still, most of the recent increases in new jobless claims were marginal and the overall level of claims has held at levels consistent with a modest recovery in the labor market.

Well, there was that 26,000 claim increase at the end of March, the one that pushed the series into the 370K-380K band two months ago.  That was more than twice as much as this week’s drop between an upwardly-revised number and a yet-to-be-revised number.  If that was “marginal,” then today’s change is relatively meaningless.  It’s a continuation of the status quo.  Maybe that’s what the AP means by “stable,” but stability at a 30-year low in the civilian participation ratio and high unemployment isn’t exactly an aspirational goal.

While we’re on the subject of reporting on Department of Labor numbers, many readers may be unaware that the DoL has changed its rules.  From now on, the government agency will forbid media outlets from bringing their own computers to the BLS “lockups” where the data is under embargo, due to concerns over market vulnerability.  Instead, the government will force them to use the BLS’ own computer systems to report on government data, which raises all sorts of questions about government intrusion on free speech and the free press:

According to Carl Fillichio, senior adviser for communications and public affairs at Labor, changing technology and the advent of global instant financial trading prompted the department to conduct its first review of security procedures in more than a decade. “Algorithmic trading introduces new security variables into a lockup system not originally designed to guard against market-moving disruptions that could be caused by the release of government data to certain traders just seconds before the rest of the general public,” he told lawmakers at the hearing. “A few years ago, a few seconds here or there would not have had much of an impact. Today, fractions of a second can equate to millions or even billions of dollars in market movements.”

In April 2011, the department contracted with Sandia National Laboratories to study system vulnerabilities in the BLS lockups. In an August 2011 report, which has not been released to Congress or the public, lab officials recommended a series of changes. Among them, journalists would no longer be permitted to use their own computers, software, or cables — only pens and notebooks. They would rely strictly on a government transmission over the Internet for the data and would no longer be permitted to exit the lockup room before the news embargo lifts.

Media groups have until mid-June to remove their equipment from the lockup room and the first run under the new procedures is scheduled for July 6, when the next national jobless numbers are scheduled to be released.

Members of the media — in the unusual role of appearing at hearings as witnesses — panned the new arrangements.

Daniel Moss, executive director of Bloomberg News, said the department’s presentation of the new system was unprecedented in that it was done without honoring the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act and presented as nonnegotiable. He said using only government Internet feeds “creates a single point of failure” — many news organizations have backup systems in case of malfunction. Moss also complained that “the government would literally own reporters’ notebooks, making them write on government computers, giving the government unfettered access.” This is a First Amendment violation and a risk to national security in the form of cyberattacks, he said. He also criticized the Labor Department for failing to explain the system openly.

That’s okay.  Maybe they’ll upwardly revise the number of computers each week.


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Virtually cooking the books, very technically savvy of the Obama campaign.

NoDonkey on June 7, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Instead, the government will force them to use the BLS’ own computer systems to report on government data, which raises all sorts of questions about government intrusion on free speech and the free press:

Creepy, creeping totalitarianism of this regime.

rbj on June 7, 2012 at 9:27 AM

However, the AP called this a “sign of a stable job market”

Does anyone else remember back in about 2004 when the AP considered a 5% unemployment rate a recession?

dirtseller on June 7, 2012 at 9:27 AM

maybe BLS can be in charge of our nat security, with all the leaking going on “at the highest levels”.

t8stlikchkn on June 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

New documents prove that Obama joined the Socialist “New Party” in the 1990s despite his denial.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/302031/obamas-third-party-history-stanley-kurtz#

Resist We Much on June 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

However, the AP called this a “sign of a stable job market”

Ridiculous. If the monthly jobless claims were 600,000 month after month, you could call it “stable” too.

Trafalgar on June 7, 2012 at 9:29 AM

The numbers are what we say they are, now go back to sleep.

Bishop on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Sooner or later you run out of jobs to lose.

I took up following Issa on the tweeter and he posted a link yesterday about news media being forced to use government computers and communications to report economic data. He’s also been calling BS on the BLS for several days now.

Lost in Jersey on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

You lie. Nothing is real with these people. No one wanted to attribute the big upswing in the market yesterday to the WI results, but I did.

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Today’s case in point is the “drop” to 377,000 from last week’s 383,000, which got revised upward to 389,000 — the 64th upward revision in 65 weeks:

Estonia sounds stoned

-Urban Blightist

tom daschle concerned on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

You lie. Nothing is real with these people. No one wanted to attribute the big upswing in the market yesterday to the WI results, but I did.

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

The most positive day this year in the stock market and the MSM willfully misses the story.

dirtseller on June 7, 2012 at 9:35 AM

“The number of Americans lining up for new jobless benefits fell last week for the first time since April, a reminder that the wounded labor market is still slowly healing.”

No it means the labor market wound is festering, constantly exposing it to deep infection, gangrene, and painful death while the Doctor-in-Chief jets around the country looking for ways to keep his job instead of just doing it.

Dusty on June 7, 2012 at 9:36 AM

“Stable job market”, as in rigor mortis stable?

Archivarix on June 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Now, they’re just toying with us.

Fallon on June 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM

…but I did.

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

I did, too.

Fallon on June 7, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Well, there was that 26,000 claim increase at the end of March, the one that pushed the series into the 370K-380K band two months ago. That was more than twice as much as this week’s drop between an upwardly-revised number and a yet-to-be-revised number. If that was “marginal,” then today’s change is relatively meaningless. It’s a continuation of the status quo. Maybe that’s what the AP means by “stable,” but stability at a 30-year low in the civilian participation ratio and high unemployment isn’t exactly an aspirational goal.

A dead patient is “stable” too.

Odds are the revision will be to at least 380K, given the 65-week average of upward revisions is in the neighborhood of +3.7K.

Steve Eggleston on June 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Ed, I look forward to these reports from you and this one is especially informative. Thanks!

MTF on June 7, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Creepy, creeping totalitarianism of this regime.

rbj on June 7, 2012 at 9:27 AM

The numbers are what we say they are, now go back to sleep.

Bishop on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Are we completely worn out on asking, “What if the Bush Administration had acted like this?”

hawkdriver on June 7, 2012 at 9:49 AM

the 64th upward revision in 65 weeks

I really don’t understand what Issa is doing.

faraway on June 7, 2012 at 9:50 AM

A dead patient is “stable” too.

Odds are the revision will be to at least 380K, given the 65-week average of upward revisions is in the neighborhood of +3.7K.

Steve Eggleston on June 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM

In this case, someone pulled the plug.

With Obama, the truth is only what he defines it to be, what he decides it will be. The Romney presidency will be just as involved in re-establishing a believable WH as it will be in reviving the economy.

AubieJon on June 7, 2012 at 9:53 AM

We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Oldnuke on June 7, 2012 at 9:53 AM

You lie. Nothing is real with these people. No one wanted to attribute the big upswing in the market yesterday to the WI results, but I did.

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

…first thing that came across my mind!

KOOLAID2 on June 7, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Welcome to the new “normal”. Or as Barry Obama would say “Have you signed up for your free food stamps yet?”

GarandFan on June 7, 2012 at 9:54 AM

You lie. Nothing is real with these people. No one wanted to attribute the big upswing in the market yesterday to the WI results, but I did.

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Lost in the noise was the Fed hinting that QE3 might be coming. That also helped to bolster the stock market as some buyers were betting more free money was coming.

NotCoach on June 7, 2012 at 9:56 AM

The 4-week moving average was 377,750, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 376,000.

Notice anything missing?

When the 4 week avg was moving down, they would always state: The 4-week moving average, a truer indicator,

kevinkristy on June 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM

and may we be reminded, Obama is up by 12……wink.

hillsoftx on June 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM

Instead, the government will force them to use the BLS’ own computer systems to report on government data, which raises all sorts of questions about government intrusion on free speech and the free press:
Creepy, creeping totalitarianism of this regime.

rbj on June 7, 2012 at 9:27 AM

…and the media are not outraged and continue to help this turd of an administration…go figure!

KOOLAID2 on June 7, 2012 at 9:58 AM

However, the AP called this a “sign of a stable job market” on its Twitter feed a few minutes after the release

And in other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s condition is also stable. He’s still dead.

(for you older SNL fans out there)

iurockhead on June 7, 2012 at 9:59 AM

My God this administration is disastrously incompetent and corrupt. I can’t wait for November to roll around so that we as a nation can show Barry the door.

Punchenko on June 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM

However, the AP called this a “sign of a stable job market”

With an 8.2% “official” unemployment rate, the proper adjective is not “stable” but “stagnant”.

SubmarineDoc on June 7, 2012 at 10:03 AM

The numbers are what we say they are, now go back to sleep take a soma.

Bishop on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

FIFY, Bishop.

The War Planner on June 7, 2012 at 10:15 AM

Lost in the noise was the Fed hinting that QE3 might be coming. That also helped to bolster the stock market as some buyers were betting more free money was coming.

NotCoach on June 7, 2012 at 9:56 AM

QE3 – The Easing of the World

You can use your imaginations on where the easing is into.

Steve Eggleston on June 7, 2012 at 10:16 AM

the 64th upward revision in 65 weeks

Yeah. I kinda stopped reading there.

Baghdad Bob had a signficantly better accuracy rating than these guys. And that is NOT a joke.

This should be the only part of this story any real journalist ever talks about: digging through the endless morass of lies; not in an effort to get to the “truth” — at this point that isn’t even a realistic option — but just to get across to people the incredible level of corruption going on in Washington right now.

Any comment whatsoever about what the blatantly fraudulent numbers are, let alone what they mean does nothing but contribute to the constant stream of unmitigated propaganda.

logis on June 7, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Good example of why we do not pay attention to the weekly number; the 4-week average is a better indicator, and it has flat-lined around 375K. Currently business hiring is on hold until the view clarifies; an important piece of the puzzle will come in a couple of weeks when the Greek elections are held (Ireland has already confirmed their austerity path in an vote earlier this month). We had a nice bump up in ISM non-manufacturing this week, and the markets are feeling more positive on Europe. This latest dip is beginning to look like a good buying opportunity …

TouchdownBuddha on June 7, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Let’s destroy the economy and the country’s fiscal foundation and hide it from the American people. — Obama’s minions.

Christian Conservative on June 7, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the panel, said the impetus for the hearing was complaints from profit-seeking Wall Street companies, and that Issa should focus on creating jobs rather than challenging the Labor Department’s methodologies.

.
Resist We Much! (not our commenter/blogger colleague, either!)
.
Wouldn’t ya know that the stinking Maryland Democrat, Baltimore edition, would parrot the administration’s complaints about the role of profit in our capitalist economy while at the same time continuing the false narrative that government creates jobs. Stupid idiot!
.
Rep. Elijah Cummings is a joke, a white-hatin’ doofus joke, a racist ignoramus Democrat joke. Keep talkin’, Joke, it helps Republicans win!

ExpressoBold on June 7, 2012 at 10:20 AM

You can use your imaginations on where the easing is into.

Steve Eggleston on June 7, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider and a stick of butter in Last Tango in Paris comes to mind. But I’m old.

Oldnuke on June 7, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Marlon Brando, Maria Schneider and a stick of butter in Last Tango in Paris comes to mind. But I’m old.

Oldnuke on June 7, 2012 at 10:21 AM

If only it were that, ;-)

Unfortunately, it’s not a pleasant “easing”.

Steve Eggleston on June 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM

the overall level of claims has held at levels consistent with a modest recovery in the labor market.

Claiming recovery in the labor market is a gross insult to people’s intelligence. It’s a LIE as blatant as those published in soviet era Pravda.

The press has sunk to despicable lows.

dogsoldier on June 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Just as an aside, my husband works at a garden nursery and usually he works 6 days a week, 20 hrs. overtime and till the end of June middle of July, They already cut his hrs to 5 days 40 hrs. It sucks because we count on that overtime to catch up on bills from the winter! And now raising our grandson is an added bill. Not that I mind, He is a Joy!!!

lisa fox on June 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Why does that bit about getting a market jump on the numbers give me visions of Randolph and Mortimer getting a jump on the orange juice futures?

xkaydet65 on June 7, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Wasn’t there a holiday in that week? You know, one of those times when the offices are closed and you can’t apply for anything and when you do apply later in the week it seems to take longer for anything to get processed?…

Sue Anne on June 7, 2012 at 10:27 AM

You lie. Nothing is real with these people. No one wanted to attribute the big upswing in the market yesterday to the WI results, but I did.

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

The most positive day this year in the stock market and the MSM willfully misses the story.

dirtseller on June 7, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Yep. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend. Time to buy?
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/06/07/why_stocks_love_scott_walker_114408.html

lynncgb on June 7, 2012 at 10:31 AM

lisa fox on June 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM

.
I have some friends that work in a large grocery store, part of an international chain, and the workforce in that store alone has had its hours cut by 300, distributed amongst the total number of employees in the store.
.
I think things are getting worse, not better, as businesses hold back until November to be sure that Ø is well and truly defeated and the Democrat hegemony in D.C. is broken. That’s my take.

ExpressoBold on June 7, 2012 at 10:32 AM

I’m sensing an increase to our chocolate ration.

jukin3 on June 7, 2012 at 10:43 AM

A true free and independent press when faced with these new regulations would boycott the meetings and preface all statements with”The Propaganda Ministry announced today…”.

FirelandsO3 on June 7, 2012 at 10:47 AM

“It’s a continuation of the status quo. Maybe that’s what the AP means by “stable,”
The same way a dead man’s physical condition is perfectly stable.

tommyboy on June 7, 2012 at 10:48 AM

We’re glad that the Obamacrats have finally quit blaming Bush for the economy, and have moved on to blaming the financial press!!!

/SARC>

and we all know what you get out of a “stable”….

landlines on June 7, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Another aside. went to the grocery store this wknd,prices jumped 50 cents. 3.99 a lb for hamburger!!!! come on!

lisa fox on June 7, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Kissmygrits on June 7, 2012 at 9:30 AM

…first thing that came across my mind!
KOOLAID2 on June 7, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Me too. I kept waiting for someone to mention it. *crickets*

I’m looking forward to a nice sustained market run up as investors begin to price in an 0bama defeat. Then, in the weeks following the election, I suspect the market will have an upward correction as an end to this…this…failure is reconciled.

I’m hoping to regain some value in my 401K so my retirement is not post-mortem.

freedomfirst on June 7, 2012 at 11:23 AM

expressoBold- Thats my take, people are holding off doing stuff like landscaping till they have some certainty!

lisa fox on June 7, 2012 at 11:27 AM

DROP ??????
Or under-reported so they can quietly post the real numbers?
I was watching some news station they said that for the past year the jobless numbers are always posted then revised ‘quietly’ up later. I guess oblunder’s team learned well from Joseph Goebbles.
“if you tell a lie long enough it becomes truth.”

ColdWarrior57 on June 7, 2012 at 11:35 AM

They should report:

The number of workers who just gave up and are living under bridges, back with parents, sleeping in cars while they drive from state to state, committing crimes…

The number of suddenly disabled people.

Estimates from employers on how many were not hired due to Obamacare, high gas prices, uncertainty over tax rates…

IlikedAUH2O on June 7, 2012 at 12:05 PM

You are AMUSED by higher unemployment????!!!!????!!!! Wow…just wow…

Hot Air has jumped the shark.

windbag on June 7, 2012 at 12:09 PM

You are AMUSED by higher unemployment????!!!!????!!!! Wow…just wow…

Hot Air has jumped the shark.

windbag on June 7, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Are you iliterate, Ed says in his post that he’s amused with the upward revisions and the media reports not with the unemployment per se …problems with reading comprehension???

jimver on June 7, 2012 at 12:53 PM

The only thing more amusing than the weekly upward revisions in the initial weekly jobless claims are the media reports of significant drops afterward.

You are the illiterate one.

windbag on June 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM

The only thing more amusing than the weekly upward revisions in the initial weekly jobless claims are the media reports of significant drops afterward.

You are the illiterate one.

windbag on June 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM

If you are staring at it and still can’t read it, I rest my case…it reads clearly ‘the only thing more amusing that ‘the UPWARD REVISIONS…are THE MEDIA REPORTS?..’….he’s basically saying he is amused with the data manipulation by the govt and rhe media reaction to it…not the unemployment rates themselves…

jimver on June 7, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Ed says in his post that he’s amused with the upward revisions and the media reports not with the unemployment per se…

He does not say that anywhere. You interpreted his sloppy writing in the friendliest manner and arrived at your conclusion.

You say

…it reads clearly…

, then you say

…he’s basically saying…

. If it reads clearly, then needs your interpretation, it clearly isn’t clear.

You immediately attacked me for being illiterate, yet you are the one who displayed problems with reading comprehension. In your zeal to play lap dog to Ed, you chose to ignore what he actually wrote and to launch ad hominem attacks at me. Not a winning strategy, especially without facts on your side.

Ed wrote a callous statement. The numbers game that is being played is frustrating, annoying, cynical…lots of things, but amusing it isn’t. Ask the 10+% unemployed how tickled they are with the numbers games. I just pointed out his poor choice of phrasing.

windbag on June 7, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Unfortunately, it’s not a pleasant “easing”.

Steve Eggleston on June 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM

Well they’re trying to put it in the same place just without the butter.

Oldnuke on June 7, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Most of us understood what Ed was saying. Quit trying to nitpick as that is the progressive’s venue. Nobody thinks this is funny.

AReadyRepub on June 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

BLS just expended it’s last bit of credibility. Pure propaganda.

This is becoming a dangerous situation.

forest on June 7, 2012 at 6:25 PM