Thursday, January 22, 2015

Four-Week Moving Average Surges Over 300,000; More Folks Filed Claims Than Expected; Numbers Point to "Continued Improvement In Labor Market Conditions" -- Mainstream Media, January 22, 2015

Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting that more Americans filed for first-time benefits for unemployment claims than forecast:
Jobless claims decreased by 10,000 to 307,000 in the week ended Jan. 17, from a revised 317,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed on Thursday in Washington. The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decline to 300,000. 
But the spin: it was due to "hangover from the holidays."  Really. The data is for the week ended January 17, 2015 -- that's almost three weeks since the holidays. This is clearly the result of oil and gas industry laying off employees.  This Bloomberg article did not even mention the downturn in the oil and gas industry.

This is just one of my stories on oil and oil service companies slashing jobs. AFP is reporting:
Big winners in the US shale-oil boom, energy services providers now are slashing jobs to preserve their profits and margins from the rapid dive in oil prices.Over the past month, the sector's three largest companies have announced 17,000 job cuts in the oil patch even as they notched up robust earnings in 2014.
Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company, has ordered the lion's share of layoffs: 9,000, or 7.5 percent of its workforce.
Baker Hughes, the number three firm, which is being acquired by number-two Halliburton, is shedding 7,000 employees, representing 11.3 percent of its staff, with most of them to be shown the door by the end of March.
As for Halliburton, 1,000 jobs are being eliminated outside the Americas and the company has signaled that was just the beginning. "We expect our headcount adjustments to be in line with our primary competitors," the company warned.
The second wave is yet to come.

Then this headline over at Yahoo!Finance: big profits, big layoffs.  AMEX and eBay announce big job cuts.
Big layoffs are coming for some big companies. eBay announced that it will layoff 2,400 people, about 7% of its workforce before April. This, after reporting a 10% increase in profits last quarter. American Express also says it will cut 4,000 jobs, or 6% of its work force, despite an 11% rise in fourth quarter profits.
Remember: "job watch" gets excited when there are 5,000 more or 5,000 less claims for first time unemployment benefits. SLB alone is slashing 9,000 jobs, although many of these will be overseas.


The president's phone call to the chief over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics must have worked. Everyone will be reporting but this is from Newsmax:
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 307,000 for the week ended Jan. 17, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Now the spin:
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week from a seven-month high, pointing to continued improvement in labor market conditions.
You had to read a little deeper to learn that last week was even worse than originally reported:
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims falling to 300,000 last week. The prior week's data was revised to show 1,000 more claims received than previously reported.
And, of course, the boiler plate: 
The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, increased 6,500 last week to 306,500, taking it above the 300,000 mark for the first time since September.
So, even thought the four-week moving average which is considered a better measure of labor market trends actually increased by a whopping 6,500 bringing claims over 300,000 for the first time in awhile, the spinmeisters can say this:
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week from a seven-month high, pointing to continued improvement in labor market conditions.
I just love the spin. 

The number of people continuing to receive jobless benefits increased by 15,000 to 2.44 million in the week ended Jan. 10.

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