Green Room

Initial jobless claims revisions – then and now

posted at 3:15 pm on April 26, 2012 by

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.

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Woohoo! 6% unemployment – here we come! – Team Obama

Turtle317 on April 26, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Woohoo! 6% unemployment – here we come! – Team Obama

Turtle317 on April 26, 2012 at 3:54 PM

When nobody’s looking for work, nobody is unemployed. It matters not in the ObamiNation whether one is working or not.

Steve Eggleston on April 26, 2012 at 3:58 PM

I started following these numbers over a year ago because of all the SPIN, so I have the records I kept from the entire calendar year 2011. 3 downard revisions (all in January and February), one week had no change (in June), and all the rest were upward revisions averaging 3,231.

The highest upward revisions were 9k and 12k (each of which happended once. Its a pretty good bell curve. 1k (3 times), 2k (7 times), 3k (13 times), 4k (18 times), 5k (3 times), 6k (2 times). But clearly 60% were undercounted by 3-4,000 and 80% were undercounted by $2-5,000.

DaveCal on April 26, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Sorry…. forgot the /sarc tag on my previous statement.

Turtle317 on April 26, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Steve, for an even better chuckle, how about looking up the press stories written during George Ws’ administration complaining about the measly 270,000 jobs added per month and why he wasn’t doing more to stimulate job growth.

Ah, good times, good times…

parke on April 26, 2012 at 4:44 PM

Sorry…. forgot the /sarc tag on my previous statement.

Turtle317 on April 26, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I’ve been missing that a lot today ;-)

Steve Eggleston on April 26, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Steve, for an even better chuckle, how about looking up the press stories written during George Ws’ administration complaining about the measly 270,000 jobs added per month and why he wasn’t doing more to stimulate job growth.

Ah, good times, good times…

parke on April 26, 2012 at 4:44 PM

I remember those well. Perhaps Ed will include a reminder with the jobs post next week.

Speaking of that, Gallup doesn’t paint a rosy picture for the unemployment rate – their mid-April seasonally-adjusted rate was 8.5%, unchanged from the mid-March number and up from the whole-March 8.1%.

Steve Eggleston on April 26, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Woohoo! 6% unemployment – here we come! – Team Obama

Turtle317 on April 26, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Sarc tag not necessary – they’re such math whizzes, they probably believe by having the numbers go up each week they can eventually get down to that level.
It’s kind of like losing money on every sale but making up for it in volume….

dentarthurdent on April 26, 2012 at 4:57 PM

These upward revisions are just practice for the election. Every week after Election Day there will be upward revisions of Obama’s electoral vote. Gore tried this in 2000 but the Court stopped him.

Smedley on April 26, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Anyone got any good analysis on Wisconsin’s numbers? The lefties are pounding on Walker, but I’m wondering what the inside story is.

David on April 26, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Anyone got any good analysis on Wisconsin’s numbers? The lefties are pounding on Walker, but I’m wondering what the inside story is.

David on April 26, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Not to the detail available on the national numbers, but the drag that is Tom Barrett’s Milwaukee is a true millstone. The drop began when the ‘Rats started appearing to have a legitimate shot of seizing control (shocking, I know). Also, the unemployment drop seems to be a bit more people finding work than dropping out of the workforce.

Steve Eggleston on April 27, 2012 at 8:01 AM

You know,

Team Obama hasn’t figured out yet that:

If you are unemployment, well, really, you are employed by the government to find employment. Therefore, we need to count those receiving unemployment as employed!

That will drop that pesky unemployment number!

The revised number never gets the press that the announced number gets. No surprise. Disappointing. But no surprise, given that we can no longer can trust neither the Government nor the Press…

Well, yes we can…to not tell us the truth…we can trust them that far.

ProfShadow on April 27, 2012 at 8:23 AM