FoxNews.com Live 9-10 @FoxNewsLive
I'll be on FoxNews.com Live this morning from 9-10, discussing the general election and the anniversary of the Bin Laden raid. If you miss it live, you can catch a replay at the link until Tuesday morning (dial the wheel to 9:00:00).
Jobless (Next) Friday
If this morning's dreary snapshot didn't have you down in the dumps about the ostensible and three-years-delinquent labor market recovery, give it a week.
The idea that the warm winter and its seemingly encouraging employment data may have robbed job creation from the spring looks to gel with the release of the April jobs report (emphasis mine).
The claims numbers are “a little concerning,” [Dow Jones’ Kathleen Madigan] said, and suggest that the April payrolls number, coming next week, “is not going to be a good one.” Not to overplay this, but she said there was a chance the number could even be negative, albeit just slightly so.
Either way, not good. What we’re finding out, she said, is that the economy wasn’t as good as it looked in the first few months of the year.
A negative print would be a huge whammy, even versus March's surprise disappointment of +120,000, and would pull the 2012 year-to-date monthly average down from over 200,000 to around 150,000, crossing under the breakeven threshold needed to keep up with population growth.
You know, in the private sector, you go to jail for what used they used to winkingly call "managing" earnings - using accounting gimmickry to nudge revenues and expenses from period to period in order to meet analysts' expectations or smooth volatility.
But in the realm of government data reporting, the art of data massage has become impressively robust.
For the 59th week of the last 60, the previous initial jobless claim report was revised upward, from 386,000 to 389,000. And once again, this enables the Labor Department to report a week-over-week decline in new jobless claims, from the adjusted 389,000 to an unadjusted 388,000. Upon next week's revision, this week will almost certainly have shown another increase.
If that sounds familiar, it may be because last week, the government reported a decline of 2,000 (but only after upwardly revising the previous week by 8,000).
Looking back over the last five weeks, the cumulative reported weekly changes (from previous weeks' adjusted data to the new unadjusted numbers) showed a net decline of 1,000, despite an actual cumulative net increase of 24,000. And that's without the 5th revision factored in, at which point the cumulative increase will be closer to 30,000.
In addition to serving as fodder for another round of "Jobless Claims Fall" headlines, this week's underestimate has the additional side effect of avoiding the probably true headline "Jobless Claims Reach New 2012 High" from being written (at least for another week). They started at 390,000 in early January and, assuming next week brings an upward revision of more than 2,000 (revisions have ranged from +3,000 to +10,000 over the last month), then we're already sitting at year-to-date highs.
The lie of unadjusted unemployment claims at least used to be a predictable one. For the last year or so, the upward revision was almost invariably 3,000 or 4,000. While last week's oops was only 3,000, the two preceeding weeks were truly wild pitches that needed revisions of 8,000 and 10,000. So we no longer have the luxury of appplying a known truth adjustment factor to reveal the real data. Alas, the only thing we know for sure is that initial unemployment claims are some amount higher than 388,000.
Update: Ed at Hot Air has more, including some of the early media reports, dutifully noting that jobless claims "eased" last week.
Bill Ayers Ate a Dog
In the wake of three national polls (Fox, Rasmussen, and Gallup) all showing Mitt Romney with a national lead over Barack Obama in the immediate wake of Rick Santorum's exit from the primary race, CNN bravely to kiboshed the ugly narrative with a poll of its own, showing Obama up by a mighty 9 points (outside the margin of error, unlike Romney's lead in the other surveys).
Naturally, they opted not to disclose the partisan split used in their polling sample, as such things can sometimes take the bloom off an otherwise rosy story. That lack of disclosure isn't wholly unprecedeted by big media pollsters, but its obfuscation does have a curious tendency to correlate with Dem-friendly outliers.
But if you imagined stuffing your own ballot box with like-minded respondents was the only way to coax a poll into yielding the proper result, you underestimate CNN's considerable mathematical creativity.
Turns out the raw data required a deeper-than-usual tissue massage to produce the trend-busting insight its sponsors required...
FoxNews.com Live 10-11
I'll be on FoxNews.com Live this morning from 10-11, discussing what remains of the GOP primary, the senior vote, and Super PACs. If you miss it live, you can catch a replay at the link until Tuesday morning (dial the wheel to 10:00:00).
Update: Here's a clip.