Thursday, April 05, 2012

Jobless Claims Fall Close to a New Four-Year Low, ASA Staffing Index for Temporary Help Improves

Initial jobless claims (seasonally adjusted) fell to 357,000 for the week ending March 31, which was the lowest number since mid-April 2008, almost four years ago, according to today's Labor Department report.   The four-week moving average of weekly claims, which smooths out weekly volatility, fell to 361,750 - also falling to the lowest level since April 2008.  The ongoing declines in jobless claims suggest that the labor market is gradually stabilizing and improving. If the declines in claims continue at the current pace,  they'll reach pre-recession December 2007 levels sometime this summer.  

Further evidence of an improving labor market is provided by the ongoing gains in the weekly ASA Staffing Index, which measures hiring activity for temporary, contract and freelance staffing (see chart below, 2012 is the orange line).     



36 Comments:

At 4/05/2012 11:40 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Mark-

You don't understand.

Every indicator that shows improvement is methodologically flawed.

Every indicator showing weakness is dead on.

 
At 4/05/2012 12:25 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

So... what I'm hearing is that Obama is going to be re-elected.

 
At 4/05/2012 12:52 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

misterjosh:

interesting observation:

The dollar ranks like a stone all through the Bush jr. presidency. That indicates (some say) that the Fed was "easy" during the Bush years, probably trying to help the GOP stay in power.

Since then, the dollar has stabilized. The Fed is not helping out Obama.

The Fed is finding reasons to passively tighten as we speak. Look for the Fed to adopt (pro-growth) Market Monetarism if Romney wins. If Romney gets us into another war, the Fed will open the floodgates.

 
At 4/05/2012 12:56 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Thanks Benjamin, I now understand. There is NO chance that the economy is now showing, or ever will show, ANY positive signs of improvement.

 
At 4/05/2012 2:15 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

"The Fed is not helping out Obama ... Look for the Fed to adopt (pro-growth) Market Monetarism if Romney wins. If Romney gets us into another war, the Fed will open the floodgates." -- "Benji"

Really?

The Federal Reserve is propping up the entire U.S. economy by buying 61 percent of the government debt issued by the Treasury Department, a trend that cannot last, Lawrence Goodman, a former Treasury official and current president of the Center for Financial Stability, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion article published Wednesday.

"Last year the Fed purchased a stunning 61 percent of the total net Treasury issuance, up from negligible amounts prior to the 2008 financial crisis," Goodman writes. ...

"This not only creates the false appearance of limitless demand for U.S. debt but also blunts any sense of urgency to reduce supersized budget deficits."

The U.S. government is growing increasingly more dependent on borrowing to finance itself, with net issuance of Treasury securities hitting 8.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average per annum, more than double levels before the crisis.

Money News

It's very hard to imagine how you could be any more ignorant or dishonest.

 
At 4/05/2012 3:18 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Che-

The Fed is no longer conducting QE.

In 2009, the economy was contracting at a 10 percent annual rate, and the financial system had collapsed. We were in two wars. The dollar had sunk to record lows.

Then Obama was inaugurated.

Since then the Fed did conduct some QE, and the dollar stabilized.

I have no problem monetizing debt. Indeed, Milton Friedman, John Taylor, Frederic Mishkin, Alan Meltzer and Ben Bernanke have all advised Japan to conduct QE, and a lot of it.

See especially this for Friedman telling Japan to print more money until it had robust growth and inflation: http://www.hoover.org/publications/hoover-digest/article/6549

Not one of the aforementioned GOP stalwarts raised issues about debasing the currency, monetizing the debt, or making the yen weak, They all wanted those results for the good of Japan. Japan did not listen, and has been in a 20-year deflationary recession with no end in sight.

The Fed today is passively tightening, no longer conducting QE.

Obama is a mediocre president--he only looks good in comparison to Bush Jr, who tanked our economy, collapsed our financial system and got us into two wars, one of which is still going on.

Bush jr. will be recorded as an epic failure. Obama will be recorded as a feeble but so-so president.

I am all for cutting the federal deficit, and shrinking the federal government. See below for federal parasites on your payroll, by agency:

Defense 3,200,000
Veterans Affairs 240,000 

Homeland Security 200,000
Treasury 162,119 

Justice 124,870 

USDA 100,000 

DOT 100,000
Health and Human Services 62,999 

Interior 57,232 

Commerce 41,711 

NASA 19,198 

EPA 18,879
State 18,000 

Labor 16,818 

Energy 14,000 

GSA 14,000

Gee, where should we cut?

 
At 4/05/2012 3:36 PM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Very good to see these unemployment numbers. I think the rate at which companies are rehiring may be a little unsustainable, but jobs will likely grow over much of the next two years.

 
At 4/05/2012 4:47 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"The dollar ranks like a stone all through the Bush jr. presidency. That indicates (some say) that the Fed was "easy" during the Bush years, probably tryingr to help the GOP stay in power"...

Hey pseudo benny does the word, "embarrassment" mean anything to you?

How many times have you repeated that insanely factless and absurd comment only to have it debunked?

 
At 4/05/2012 4:58 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

yeah, Dead Che!

Japan's stooooped austerity increased debt/GDP to a paltry 200%. Just a little less than that beacon of prosperity, Zimbabwe's, 230%!

There is nothing that printing money can't fix. Print, baby, print! Or inaugurate Obama. Either way, the same prosperity magic happens. Just don't inaugurate Bush because while Obama has the magical power to heal and his blind followers have the power to ignore the wars he started and the countries he's invaded, Bush is possessed of an evil genius that allows him to single-handedly tank the entire U.S. economy, along with the financial sector and willy-nilly go into Afghanistan as if (pffffft1) somebody launched a major terrorist attack from there or something.

Bunny,

is that list supposed to provide us with a dilemma? I can scarcely find a department on your woefully incomplete list that couldn't do with a pruning of 90-100%!

 
At 4/05/2012 5:09 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Initial jobless claims (seasonally adjusted) fell to 357,000 for the week ending March 31, which was the lowest number since mid-April 2008"...

Yeah, the U6 rate is rocking in at just under 15%...:-)

That's the lowest its been well since never...

Still ANY improvement is better than no improvement...

TrimTabs Says U.S. Economy Added 187,000 Jobs in March – TrimTabs Three-Month Average of 172,000 New Jobs is 30% Less than BLS’ 245,000

 
At 4/05/2012 5:59 PM, Blogger Eric H said...

Deja vu all over again...

 
At 4/05/2012 6:32 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

The "Misunderestimated" President:

Bush inherited the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression and a recession. However, the Bush Administration turned the recession into one of the mildest in U.S. history (which wasn't a recession based on annual per capita real GDP growth), after the record economic expansion and structural bull market from 1982-00.

Over a five-year period in the mid-2000s, U.S. corporations had a record 20 consecutive quarters of double-digit earnings growth, two million houses a year were built, 16 million autos per year were sold, U.S. real GDP expanded 3% annually, in spite of 6% annual current account deficits (which subtract from GDP).

The U.S. economy was most efficient, while Americans stocked-up on real assets and goods, and capital was built-up. It was one of the greatest periods of U.S. prosperity, the fourth longest economic expansion in U.S. history, and in a structural bear market that began in 2000.

The Bush Administration was adept at minimizing the recession in 2008, including providing a tax cut in early '08 for the Fed to catch-up easing the money supply, until Lehman failed in Sep '08, which caused the economy to fall off a cliff. However, appropriate policy adjustments were implemented quickly.

 
At 4/05/2012 6:38 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

And if Bush could be reelected and had his way, the U.S. would've completed a V-shaped recovery last year, and we'd be in a strong disinflationary expansion instead of this on-going depression and "train wreck."

 
At 4/05/2012 6:52 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Methinks--

Yes, every department on the list could be cut by 75 percent or more. That's my point.

Point #2 is most of the coprolite on that that list are GOP sacred cows.

Ryan says no to any defense cuts, no matter how much patronage, lard and coprolite is involved.

 
At 4/05/2012 6:59 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Right, Bunny. I forgot how eager the Democrats were to cut the USDA, EPA, FDA, Dept of labour, Dept. of education, etc.

Those are all still around because they're Republican sacred cows.

Pesky old Paul Ryan keeps standing in the way of Nirvana.

Team Democrap all the way!!!! Rah Rah Rah!

 
At 4/05/2012 7:06 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

I wonder how much faster jobless claims would fall if congress didn't so "generously" extend jobless benefits to 40 years (or whatever it is).

 
At 4/05/2012 7:19 PM, Blogger Che is dead said...

Partial Leak of Obamas College Transcripts!!

 
At 4/05/2012 8:54 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos: "How many times have you repeated that insanely factless and absurd comment only to have it debunked?"

Bunny says: "Oh, hurt me, beat me, ride me around the room, make me feel cheap!"

 
At 4/05/2012 9:00 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Methinks'

"is that list supposed to provide us with a dilemma? I can scarcely find a department on your woefully incomplete list that couldn't do with a pruning of 90-100%!"

Yep, everything below a massively trimmed defense which could then be privatized, could be cut 100%.

 
At 4/05/2012 9:03 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Ron H.,

Given how well government provides for our defense, I don't see any reason not to privatize that as well.

Squirrels armed with slingshots would do the job better and cheaper.

 
At 4/05/2012 9:07 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Just to clarify, that was NOT a shot at American soldiers but the defense industry of which they are a part but which they do not control.

 
At 4/05/2012 9:56 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Working towards a new and unheard level of Joe Biden like inanities the pseudo benny blabbers thusly: "Point #2 is most of the coprolite on that that list are GOP sacred cows"...

So oh 'coprolite grains for brains and Jerry Brown supporter' just what are these alledged sacred cows?

Don't leave us in suspense...

 
At 4/05/2012 10:33 PM, Blogger juandos said...

I'm glad you brought this up methinks: "Just to clarify, that was NOT a shot at American soldiers but the defense industry of which they are a part but which they do not control"...

The reason why was because you reminded me of these two links I got from an e-mail today...

Counterfeit Parts Found on P-8 Posiedons

Russia might be having the same problem...

 
At 4/05/2012 10:44 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Deja vu all over again"...

Well eric h it is an election year, time to put on the waders since its going to get even deeper...

'"Oh, hurt me, beat me, ride me around the room, make me feel cheap!"'...

Well ron h maybe the pseudo benny was igored (understandably) as a child...

 
At 4/05/2012 10:47 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Partial Leak of Obamas College Transcripts!!"....

Damn che, now that was funny!

 
At 4/05/2012 11:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

TrimTabs is essentially making up numbers. I can basically prove it.

 
At 4/06/2012 12:19 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Lee Adler is making up stuff, too:
http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2012-14-05/nonfarm-payrolls-should-fall-377000-they-won%E2%80%99t

Average daily receipts for the month of March were about 7% over March of last year. I can prove that. He's looking at a single week and comparing it to (what appears to be) the corresponding week last year. However, given that the 12th of the month occurred in different weeks of the month last year compared to this year, one can play games and come up with a variety of numbers, to suit one's ideological whims.

-- This year, the week containing March 12th saw $49,984 billion in withholding tax receipts.
-- Last year, the corresponding week (which would be the week of 3/13-3/19 2011) saw $48,039 billion in withholding tax receipts.
-- That's a y-o-y increase of 4.05%.

Unfortunately, the comparative week in 2011 I used above does not contain the 12th. If I use the week from March 2011 containing the 12th (the week of 3/06-3/12) I get withholding receipts of $32,337 billion ... which compared to the $49,984 billion this year would leave us with a stunning y-o-y increase of 54.6% (!!!).

Clearly Adler decided to use the week which gave the smaller increase, subtracted something for wage increases (he's actually assuming about 3% y-o-y wage increases!!), then did his little mathematical calculation and came up with some doomey sounding number.

I'm sorry, but you just cannot do it that way. For starters, looking at a single week is a huge error, because not everyone gets paid every week, and some people don't even get paid at regular intervals (such as some temp agency workers), one year people might decide to take out more deductions ... and a whole host of other complications. If you're going to do this at all, the only way to do it is to look at least at 4-week averages, and preferably a whole month's average.

And even then, using withholding receipts to try to calculate job gains is at best a guessing game. So many assumptions have to be made your margin of error is going to be no better than the BLS's. Be wary of people who say they can determine if the BLS is right or wrong about jobs numbers. At best you can get a general idea of job trends by looking at multi-week moving averages and monthly averages. Precision is impossible.

 
At 4/06/2012 1:30 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Methinks,

"Given how well government provides for our defense, I don't see any reason not to privatize that as well."

I didn't write my comment clearly. My suggestion was to shrink defense to a much smaller organization, privatize it, and eliminate the rest entirely.

 
At 4/06/2012 7:45 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Ahhhhh! We are in agreement, Ron H.

 
At 4/06/2012 8:33 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"TrimTabs is essentially making up numbers. I can basically prove it"...

"Lee Adler is making up stuff, too"...

"Average daily receipts for the month of March were about 7% over March of last year. I can prove that. He's looking at a single week and comparing it to (what appears to be) the corresponding week last year. However, given that the 12th of the month occurred in different weeks of the month last year compared to this year, one can play games and come up with a variety of numbers, to suit one's ideological whims"...

LMAO! You need to pay more attention what Biderman and his staff say and write...

O.K. unknown, I've read your nonsense now where's your proof?

From Zero Hedge: NFP Big Miss: 120K, Expectations 205K, Unemployment 8.2%

 
At 4/06/2012 8:47 AM, Blogger FloridaSteve said...

Correct me if I'm wrong here. I'm not an economist. But aren't the unemployment numbers a little, I don't know, full of crap when the labor force has almost 10 million fewer people in it today than in 2008.

I've already shown my rather clever 10 year old daughter how numbers can "lie" if you define hm poorly. And how many of the folks from that 2007 sample have jobs that are outside their chosen careers?

I'm yet to see very much discussion of this on this blog.

 
At 4/06/2012 11:21 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Check out the Zero Hedge link florida steve...

 
At 4/06/2012 12:29 PM, Blogger bart said...

U7 unemployment rate reconstruction by yours truly drops to 21.4%, the lowest since Oct 2009... and without any data on how much less the jobs pay.


http://www.nowandfutures.com/images/unemploymentU3U6U7.png







The raw withholding numbers:


http://www.nowandfutures.com/images/withholding_indiv.png

http://www.nowandfutures.com/images/withholding_corp.png

 
At 4/06/2012 9:12 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4/06/2012 9:18 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4/06/2012 9:20 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

juandos said: "O.K. unknown, I've read your nonsense now where's your proof?"

You asked for it, you got it. You're about to find out how much of a fool you are for calling my stuff nonsense.

Last year's data is from here:
Last year's Jan-March DTS
This year's data is from here:
Current Daily Treasury Statement issues

The amount of withholding is on "TABLE IV Federal Tax Deposits" about 2/3 down each text page. It's the first line entitled "Withheld Income and Employment Taxes" under the "Today" column.

First on each line below is the date, second is the amount of withholding taxes received on that date, in million $$.

March 2011
03/01: $15,414
03/02: $9,247
03/03: $2,247
03/04: $9,023
03/07: $15,209
03/08: $2,012
03/09: $6,261
03/10: $2,551
03/11: $6,301
03/14: $13,927
03/15: $6,869
03/16: $16,693
03/17: $2,178
03/18: $8,372
03/21: $10,965
03/22: $1,325
03/23: $5,555
03/24: $1,712
03/25: $4,447
03/28: $10,939
03/29: $1,323
03/30: $5,935
03/31: $3,576
-----------------------
Total: $162,081 million
Total / 23 days = $7,047 million average withholding receipts per day

March 2012
03/01: $16,099
03/02: $9,452
03/05: $13,790
03/06: $2,475
03/07: $8,844
03/08: $2,716
03/09: $5,523
03/12: $14,288
03/13: $1,900
03/14: $7,923
03/15: $6,748
03/16: $19,125
03/19: $11,292
03/20: $1,916
03/21: $7,959
03/22: $1,654
03/23: $5,112
03/26: $10,612
03/27: $2,095
03/28: $6,428
03/29: $2,620
03/30: $7,782
---------------------
Total: $166,353
Total / 22 days = $7,561.5 million average withholding receipts per day

2012's $7,561.5 million is 7.3% more than 2011's $7,047 million figure.

Next time I say I can prove something, I'd suggest you think twice before you doubt me.

 

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