[Update: There has been some flak over this post at Hot Air, where Ed Morrisey said: "I got several e-mails criticizing me for (a) not having cited the reference for the origin of the numbers, which is more a criticism of Uncommon Misperceptions, and (b) not having shown the entirety of 2009 to show that the job market did improve."
This is retarded. As noted in the first line of the post below, this is a follow-on post to the original post at Innocent Bystanders. The original post cited the origin of the numbers (the Department of Labor, of course), and gave a plot of the entirety of 2009. RTFP, dorks.
I should also note, though, that people who download the latest data set from the Dept of Labor find numbers that are slightly different than the ones I used for this chart. This chart reflects the revised numbers published weekly in the news releases from DOL. On March 25, 2010, DOL announced that they were revising the seasonal adjustment factors all the way back to 2005, which gave different claims numbers. So the data presented here is based on the old seasonal adjustment, except for the data for the last month.
Little known fact: the seasonal adjustment added almost 150,000 claims over the time period in the chart below.]
I tried to make this point yesterday at Innocent Bystanders, but I don’t think it came through very well. And I don’t think it’s been pointed out anywhere in the media, so it’s really worth making the point well. So, sans plus ado, here’s the point:
For the past 5 1/2 months, the initial unemployment claims data have not really changed. Here’s what I mean:
The data are oscillating about a slowly increasing value, indicating that, if anything, unemployment claims are increasing. That means that for the past 5 1/2 months, every time the administration has told us that the unemployment situation is slowly recovering, and that the data show “the right trend,” they have been absolutely mistaken.
The media has been doing their typical baby duck analysis: every day is a brand new day, every unemployment claims report is the first one they’ve ever seen. So we get headlines like, “job situation improving” when the number of claims drops, and “unexpected increase” when the number rises.
For half a year the claims data has just been oscillating – going nowhere. And nobody seems to have noticed.