Stats on infection coronavirus rates not showing what you would expect. Time to open the economy.

September 22, 2020, 7:55 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

We have been locked down long enough for the volume of statistics to build up to the point of allowing deeper analysis. As is always the case, the statistics can also be manipulated to give whatever answer you want. Deeper, honest analysis is starting to show surprising results, for example, the lack of correlation between infection rates and lockdown policies.

Surprising results on the low correlation will be mentioned after some game playing is described.

Wall Street Journal – /9/9/20 – The Sturgis Statistical Misfire – For this story remember the old saying

  • Figures don’t lie, but liars figure

The annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota routinely draws huge numbers of people to the town, whose population is only 7,000 people. Attendance at the 10-day event this year was lower than usual with an estimated 460,000 motorcycle enthusiasts hanging around.

Frightening news reports at the time said this would cause massive numbers of Covid infections leading to massive numbers of deaths.

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The shutdown is killing people. Some estimates of ‘excess deaths’ from the lockdown.

September 17, 2020, 3:26 pm

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The comment that shutting down the economy represents a trade-off of lives versus jobs is an invalid comparison.

The real trade-off from a shutdown is lives versus lives.

People are dying because of the shutdown. The shutdown is killing people.

It is time to open the economy.

I don’t have time to summarize all the articles I have read making this point. Here are just three examples.

The pandemic is killing dementia patients

Washington Post – 9/16/20 – Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer’s patients while families watch from afar – The Washington Post, the Post, studied data from CDC to identify there have been 13,200 excess deaths from Alzheimer’s and dementia since the shutdown started. Excess deaths are the extra deaths over the number that would otherwise be expected because of some particular situation.

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Slight improvement in new unemployment claims for week ending 9/12/20.

September 17, 2020, 7:46 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 9/12/20 dropped a little, with “only” 860,000 people losing their jobs, down from an upwardly revised 893,000 the previous week. For contrast, before the government induced shutdown of the economy new claims averaged about 220,000 per week.

Better news in the data is the number of continuing claims for unemployment dropped about twice as much as the new claims, to 12.6M for the week ending 9/5/20.  That is the lowest since the shutdown started.

CNBC report on 9/17/20 says Jobless claims were lower than expected but unemployment growth is still sluggish. The number of new claims was slightly better than  the 875,000 which economists expected.

As I continue to sort out for myself what this means, will continue listing the stats I’m tracking.

The number of new claims for unemployment and number drawing unemployment is provided by Department of Labor. I calculated the net change, which I assume represents the number of new jobs, although it could also be that people dropping out of the job market wash into the new jobs number:

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New claims for unemployment slowly declining with new jobs exceeding new claims; 9/5/20

September 11, 2020, 8:27 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For the third time since start of the recession, the number of new claims for unemployment for the week ending 9/5/20 was below the 1,000,000 mark. For contrast, before the government induced shutdown of the economy, new claims averaged about 220,000 per week.

On the other hand, the number of new claims was flat for the week – the damage from the shutdown in terms of new claims did not go down.

As I continue to sort out for myself what this means, will keep listing the stats I’m tracking.

The number of new claims for unemployment and number drawing unemployment is provided by Department of Labor. I calculated the net change, which I assume represents the number of new jobs, although could also be that people dropping out of the job market could wash into that number:

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Unemployment rate declines again in August 2020 after sharp spike in April 2020.

September 4, 2020, 7:51 am

After shooting from 3.4% in February to 14.7% in April, the headline unemployment rate has dropped to 8.4% in August.

You will interpret the statistics as you wish.

Looks to me like people are slowing getting back to work after the shock of the pandemic and follow-on government-ordered shutdown of the economy.

There are six different measures of unemployment, each providing a slightly different perspective. Put them all together for a more complex picture the economy.

At the top is a graph since 2007 of U-3, the headline statistic, along with U-6, the broadest stat which includes discouraged workers, marginally attached, and those working part time because they can’t find full time work.

For a closer picture, focus in on the stats since January 2019:

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Devastation from government ordered shutdown of the economy – 1 of 3

September 1, 2020, 11:10 am

What the California economy might look like by the time it is allowed to reopen. Photo of abandoned farm in North Dakota by James Ulvog.

Over the last several weeks I have accumulated a number of articles describing the economic and health damage caused by the government ordered shutdown of the economy.

I’ve been wanting to post these for a while. In light of the California government imposing more severe constraints on when the economy will be allowed to start functioning again, it is now time to publish.

Economic damage

7/30/20 – Wall Street Journal – US Economy Contracted at Record Rate last Quarter; Jobless Claims Rise to 1.43 million – The preliminary estimate of the collapse in the US economy for the second quarter came in at an annualized 32.9% drop. Again, that is annualized. In addition, it will be revised in each of the next two months as additional data is gathered by the feds.

That follows an annualized drop of 5% in the first quarter.

8/25/20 – CNBC – American Airlines to cut 19,000 jobs when federal aid expires in OctoberRead the rest of this entry »


Number of new unemployment claims rises for week of 8/15/20, but new jobs continue to exceed new losses.

August 25, 2020, 8:35 am

Unemployed business people. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For the first time since 4/4/20, the number of new claims for unemployment increased for the 8/15/20 reporting date. Oddly, the increase of 109K is small for the time of pandemic but would be equal to about 4 weeks of new claims before the pandemic hit.

As I continue to sort out what this means, I’ll continue giving the same stats as provided for recent weeks.

Since the middle of June, which is when I started tracking this metric, the number of new jobs has exceeded the newly lost jobs by 5 million.

Looks to me like these stats suggest the economy is recovery, but at a slow pace, with unprecedented numbers of people still out of work at the same time as an extremely high number of new claims for unemployment are still rolling in.

 

The number of people drawing unemployment the number of new claims, and the resulting number of new jobs:

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New claims for unemployment increase for week of 7/18/20.

July 24, 2020, 12:26 pm

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

For the first time since 4/4/20, the number of new claims for unemployment increased for the week. Oddly, the increase of 109K is small for the time of pandemic, it would be equal to about 4 weeks of new claims before the pandemic hit.

As I continue to sort out what this means, I’ll continue giving the same stats as provided for recent weeks.

The number of people drawing unemployment the number of new claims, and the resulting number of new jobs:

Read the rest of this entry »


California shut down again.

July 21, 2020, 8:46 am

Economic performance, health outcomes, and educational achievements in California after a second round of shutdown. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

We are a week into our second shutdown here in California.

Restaurants may only provide food to-go or for outdoor dining. The outdoor dining option only helps restaurants stay in business if they have enough outdoor patio space to have enough tables to provide enough customers to stay in business and then only if the temperature (during July and August) is tolerable.

Churches are prohibited from having worship services inside. Churches who are rich enough to have lots of outdoor space to sit in and well off enough to afford two sets of audio equipment can worship live. The first amendment has been partially suspended again.

Gyms, salons, and bars are closed.

On 7/14/20, the Wall Street Journal also explained the issue in a short editorial: California’s Second Shutdown.

The core issue:

A lockdown will cause more harm (economically, socially, psychologically, educationally, and emotionally) than the pandemic will cause.

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New claims for unemployment at 7/11/20 continue at high level. Good news is new jobs continue to be higher than lost jobs.

July 17, 2020, 8:53 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I’ve been scratching my head for a long time wondering how the tally of new unemployment claims can continue at skyhigh catastrophe levels while the unemployment rate has not gone vastly higher than it already has.

Head scratching from another direction – Number of new claims is steady at a level that is at least six times higher than it was right before the pandemic started yet the number of people drawing unemployment is declining.

How can that be?

 

Think I have finally sorted out the answer after several weeks of looking at additional data:

  • The number of new jobs created each week is running far higher than the number of lost jobs.

To get to this point for yourself, compare the number of people drawing unemployment with the change from week to week, add in the number of new unemployment claims, and then plug the difference as people who have gone back to work meaning they have found a job. It is too early for people to dropping off unemployment because their allowed weeks gas run out so the change in people drawing unemployment has to be new jobs. Let me know if I missed something in this concept.

Here is my analysis of the number of people drawing unemployment, the number of new claims, and the resulting number of new jobs:

week new back to # drawing
ended claims work unempl.
6/13/2020   1.54       20.29
6/20/2020   1.48     2.54       19.23
6/27/2020   1.41     1.88       18.76
7/4/2020   1.31     2.31       17.76
7/11/2020   1.30     1.72       17.34

 

Data source

Weekly press release from the Department of labor: Unemployment insurance weekly claims

Number of people drawing unemployment

Here is the weekly tally of people drawing unemployment, which is revised in the subsequent week:

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Headline unemployment rate drops by two percentage points in June 2020.

July 2, 2020, 9:50 am

Wow, I sure don’t understand what is happening.  The headline unemployment rate declined 2.2% in June. That is a big drop.

At the same time, new claims for unemployment were 6.01 million for the four weeks ending 6/27/20. See previous post: New unemployment claims barely decline in week ending 6/27/20.

(How to put that information together? Well, the reason I’m blogging is to put my thoughts into writing, which forces me to think deeper in order to sort out what is going on around me.)

The U-3 unemployment rate in last four months with change from previous month:

march        4.4
april      14.7      10.3
may      13.3      (1.4)
june      11.1      (2.2)

 

That is a 2.6% drop in two months after a 10.3% rise in April.

Wow.

Graph above shows key unemployment rates since the start of 2019.

This discussion will be posted at several of my blogs.

For longer term perspective, consider the rates since before the Great Recession:

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New unemployment claims barely decline in week ending 6/27/20.

July 2, 2020, 9:43 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

New unemployment claims for week ending 6/27/20 were 1.427M, down slightly from 1.480M the previous week. That is five weeks of between 1.4M and 1.9M following ten weeks of between 2.1M and 6.9M new claims.

The impact of new claims is mitigated by the number of people getting rehired which leads to the calculation of ongoing payments for unemployment.

  • 20.29M revised down from 20.5M- 6/13/20
  • 19.23M revised down from 19.52M – 6/20/20
  • 19.29M – 6/27/20 (a rare and exquisitely unexpected typo refers to this as the 6/20 week)

That shows the number of people finding new jobs is running higher than the number of people losing their jobs.

This discussion will be posted at several of my blogs.

My tally of data:

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New unemployment claims are still around 1.5 million per week.

June 25, 2020, 8:31 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

New unemployment claims for week ending 6/20/20 were 1.480M, down slightly from 1.540M the previous week, which was revised upward from 1.508M.

The impact of new claims is mitigated by the number of people getting rehired. That leads to the calculation of ongoing payments for unemployment which are:

  • 20.5M, revised to 20.289M – 6/13/20
  • 19.52M – 6/20/20

This discussion will be posted on several of my blogs.

Data:

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Unemployment rate starts to decline in May 2020 after shooting up in April.

June 22, 2020, 8:35 am

The headline unemployment rate declined to 13.3% from 14.7% in April. Rates for both months are a dramatic increase from the 3.5% rate in February.

The only way I can square this data with the massive volume of new unemployment claims is that a lot of people are getting new jobs after being furloughed. That is the only way the U3 is not above 20%.

So, my tentative guess is the economy is actually starting to recover, in spite of efforts of multiple governors to keep the economy in their states shut down.

Misclassification error in data understates unemployment

A new phenomenon in the age of shutdown is arising from the way the data is accumulated. The unemployment rate is determined by a large survey.

Turns out people are answering the question of their unemployment status as “employed but absent from work.” In normal times, that means a person is on vacation, thus actually employed.

In this shattered economy that means you got laid off or furloughed but are still getting paid by your employer or perhaps highly enhanced unemployment. People in that category are actually unemployed but are counted in the statistical data as employed.

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New unemployment claims since start of shutdown is about 1 out of 3 people who had a job in February.

June 18, 2020, 11:55 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I’ve run out of adjectives to describe the economic mess created by the shutdown.

New unemployment claims for week ending 6/13/20 were 1.508 million, seasonally adjusted, down from revised 1.566 million the previous week.

My tally of data:

  • 45.69 M – seasonally adjusted new claims since the economy was shut down – that is up 4.96 million in three weeks
  •   9.28 M  – new claims for unemployment by people who otherwise aren’t eligible for unemployment – self-employed and independent contractors
  • 54.97 M – total of seasonally adjusted plus independent contractors and self-employed people

Number of new claims for unemployment as percent of February civilian labor force:

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