Initial jobless claims revisions – then and now
posted at 3:15 pm on April 26, 2012 by Steve Eggleston
Ed touched on the revisions “game” in today’s jobless claims post, picked up on this week by Suitably Flip. To wit, for 59 of the last 60 weeks, the advance initial jobless claims number was revised upward. The last time Tom Blumer touched on that, the average upward revision was right around 4,000.
In the comments on Ed’s post, hawksruleva asked whether previous administrations had a similar record of almost-unbroken upward revisiosn of initial jobless claims numbers. That sent me to the previous administrations’ section of the Department of Labor’s news release archive. My first stop was the 2008 archives to get each week’s jobless claims press release, as it was both an election year (like this year) and the beginning of the current recession. The chart is a bit long to display (which is why it is merely linked), but the summary is rather interesting. While 39 of the 52 weeks in 2008 saw the jobless claims revised upward (by a maximum rise of 10,000), 7 weeks saw a downward revision (by a maximum drop of 5,000) and 6 saw no revision whatsoever. The average revision was +2,170.
I had hoped to get the jobless claims press releases from 2004 and 1996 to compare what an administration battling for re-election did, but the press releases were missing. Instead, I settled for 2000, Bill Clinton’s last year. Even though several weeks’ worth (mostly those immediately before the election) of press releases were not in the archives, there was enough to produce another chart of data, covering 47 of the 53 weeks in 2000. 30 of those weeks saw upward revisions (with a maxiumum rise of 26,000), 7 saw downward revisions (with a maximum fall of 9,000) and 10 saw no revision. The average revision was +1,720.
To answer hawksruleva’s question, while previous administrations did regularly revise data, and most of the data was revised upward, it was neither as consistently nor as consistenly upward as the Obama administration’s revisions.