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BLS Seasonal Adjustments Do Strange Things With Numbers...

|Includes: BellSouth Corp. (BLS)

 We've all heard about last week's dismal unemployment reports.  Unemployment numbers require more careful scrutiny than the media has given them of late as the adjustments made by the BLS have been pretty dramatic.  Last week's unemployment report included mention of 500,000 new unemployment claims, however, if we look at the unadjusted numbers, we see that "The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 401,856 in the week ending Aug. 14, a decrease of 22,650 from the previous week..."  This adjustment, which had the effect of depressing markets by making the numbers seem more negative than they actually were followed a period of several weeks when seasonal adjustments reduced the reported number of unemployment claims by over 100,000.  During that period, when claims were under-reported by more than 100,000, media coverage of the economy was far more positive.  Granted, part of that 100,000 plus deduction in unemployment claims was likely to account for Census workers being laid off, but it seems the media made little note of that change until it came time to report the end of month jobs numbers.  Given that we are in a period of economic anxiety, anyone who follows economic figures should avoid the temptation to take the numbers given by commercial news outlets - which are notorious for not giving all of the details - and download the actual Department of Labor Employment and Training press release which is available every Thursday at: 

http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/opa/


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