Labor's suspicious statistics
The Reuters report “Jobless claims drop, easing investor fear of soft labor market” (April 12 and TribLIVE.com) cited a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report on the number of initial unemployment claims filed during the week ending April 6, 2013. It reported that the “seasonally adjusted” number of initial unemployment insurance claims filed fell by 42,000 to 346,000. No mention is made that the BLS reported that the actual number of claims filed rose by 37,025 to 353,933.
To report a seasonally adjusted figure of minus 42,000 claims when the actual number was plus 37,025 means that the statisticians were expecting a seasonal fall in claims of 79,000 (37,025 plus 42,000). That sounds to me like a totally unwarranted assumption.
What are the seasonal forces in April? I am not aware of any.
We are owed an explanation by the BLS of what the seasonal adjustments were that it made. The two figures, one reporting an unusual fall in the number of claims and the other an unusual rise in the number of claims, are not consistent with one another. Maybe only the methodology used for seasonal adjustments is at fault. Something is grievously wrong with the statistics.
It is a disservice by the BLS to the business community and to investors to downplay the actual number of claims filed. But journalists pay attention only to the BLS announcement of “seasonally adjusted” claims.
One only has to read the report beyond its first paragraph to learn how many claims were actually filed. Apparently, few journalists bother to do so.
What is CNBC's and Bloomberg's excuse for such shoddy reporting, which is watched by millions of investors?
Raymond L. Richman
The writer is professor emeritus of public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- About convention idea
- Fight both Israel’s & America’s
- GOP: Demonstrate leadership
- Queueing on Rt. 28
- Electric & heat
- Give thanks for vets
- The real big spenders
- Gruber, then & now II
- Gruber, then & now I
- Poisoned long ago
- Appreciate caregivers