Thursday, September 27, 2012

Biggest Decrease in First-Time Unemployment Claims Since July -- Two Months Ago -- The Economy Has Turned The Corner -- Happy Days Are Here Again -- Bloomberg; UPDATE: not so fast! GDP Revised Downward!


Later, 10:25 am: despite the horrendous news that US GDP was revised downward, and the durable orders drop was the worse since the throes of depression, the stock market hangs in there. For example "T" flirts with its 52-week high, and pays almost 5% in dividends. For longer-term holders, the rate is even higher. As noted below, Americans in general are content/satisfied: they are upset about the refs in the NFL (but that's been settled) and polling suggests "we" are content with "four more years."What a great country.

Later, 10:08 am: oh, oh! Not good! OMG! Less than an hour or so after we get this wonderful news that  the job market has turned the corner and happy days are here again, we get the depressing news that:
But Americans are content/satisfied. Polling shows continued support for four more years. The middle class that invests is in a sweet spot. The middle class that saves is hurting. Don't save for college; invest for college. 

More good news: why men are failing in this new economy. In 12 of the 15 fastest-growing industries, there are more female employees than male employees. Why? Because women are better educated: for every two (2) men with a college degree, there are three (3) women with the same degree. The gender ratio balance has shifted partly because of the 6 million manufacturing jobs lost during the recession — an industry that was heavily employed by men.
"The manufacturing sector is never going to come back exactly the way it was," she notes. "We can safely assume that era is over. What the "man-cession revealed," she says, "was deeper trends in the economy. [Trends] that allow women to adapt themselves more easily to what's going on."
The link takes you to a pitch to buy a book. 

Original Post

Remember: the magic number is 400,000

One thing Bloomberg and I have in common: eternal optimists!

Here's the lede in today's job report:
Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, a sign the labor market is getting back on track. 
Applications for jobless benefits decreased 26,000 to 359,000 in the week ended Sept. 22, the lowest since July, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 375,000 claims, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
This is huge!  This is the lowest number since .... drum-roll ... July. Yes, July of this year. About two months ago. No wonder everyone is feeling upbeat about the economy.

Let's see what else is in the report.

Deep in the article:
A Labor Department official today said claims related to Tropical Storm Isaac were not enough to have a material influence on the data.
Hmmm...I seem to recall that "bad" jobs data a few weeks ago was blamed on Tropical Storm Isaac -- and wasn't it a hurricane (in fact, I was curious about that last week, and a google search was not helpful -- some sites referred to the tropical storm as a hurricane, others as a tropical storm -- yes, I know a hurricane is a tropical storm).

The four-week moving average for jobless claims dropped to 374,000 from 378,500.

So, there you have it. Outstanding news. Happy days are here again.

Notes to the Granddaughters 

One of the sights we enjoy when in southern California: the container ships in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, in the San Pedro Harbor.

A few data points regarding intermodal shipping from Simon Winchester's Atlantic, pp. 350 - 352

  • "invented" American trucking executive Malcom McLean (obviously Scottish-Irish background)
  • mid-1950s; like Harold Hamm, MM started out as a truck driver
  • standard-sized containers; contents untouched by human hands at the port
  • truck-rail-ship
  • largest: the Danish MV Emma Maersk, 170,000 tons; 15,000 containers;
  • first ship, 1956, US Navy tanker, the Ideal-X, Newark to Houston, 58 containers
  • prior to intermodal shipping: $6/ton to load cargo
  • with intermodal shipping: sixteen cents (on the Ideal-X, on first day)
  • McLean's first company: Pan-Atlantic Steamships; later sold to a tobacco company, then to a railroad firm, and finally to Maersk
  • Maersk: fleet of seven of the biggest ships ever built;
  • McLean died in 2001 

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