A Better Unemployment Report That Really Isn’t And More Lousy News On Same Store Sales

A bit late getting this up today, so I’ll just post the numbers with minimal commentary.

New claims for unemployment insurance fell by 52,000 to 565,000 last week. This was a big surprise. The four-week moving average was down 10,000 to 606,000. Those are seasonally adjusted numbers which is important and I’ll explain why in a second. First, note that the non-seasonally adjusted number last week was 577,506 which represented a much smaller drop of 17,000.

The seasonal adjustment provides for a big increase in claims at this time of the year as that’s when auto companies typically shut down for maintenance and to gear up for new model production. As you know, GM and Chrysler shut down production much earlier so when the seasonal adjustment is applied it shows a much bigger drop. It’s generally good to adjust all these numbers on a seasonal basis but every so often it bites you.

So don’t start hyperventilating over this report. It’s not that big a deal and based on the four-week number it’s still a very sick labor market.

Speaking of sick markets, retail may be the definition of that term in the dictionary. Same store sales were down 6.7% over June 2008. The analysts had some mumbo jumbo about wet, rainy weather impacting the industry — don’t buy it. Consumers that have money are sitting on it and there’s a lot that don’t have any money any more. Here is some detail from Jake at EconomPic Data.com:

All of this pretty much matches up with the rest of the weak data that’s been coming in over the past few weeks. Things aren’t getting much worse but they sure aren’t getting better.

more: here and here

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