TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Labor's suspicious statistics

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Letter to the Editor
Friday, April 19, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
 

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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Letters

  1. Catholicism & science
  2. Major issue, no action
  3. Seal the borders
  4. States & secession
  5. Not one-sided
  6. ‘Deflategate’ fault NFL’s
  7. USW not cause of ATI woes
  8. Outrageous & delusional
  9. Bright lines: Budget battle
  10. Inspiring & welcome
  11. Trump: Stealing the thunder