Another Thursday, Another Unemployment Claims Misdirection

Both the headline and opening sentence at Christopher Rugaber's Associated Press report on today's unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor tell readers that initial unemployment claims fell by 3,000 during the most recent week. Though Rugaber acknowledged that last week's initial figure was revised up, he didn't say by how much (3,000, from 382K to 385K), and of course didn't note that based on the track record of the past year, there's a 98% chance that this week's figure will also be revised up.

A graph posted at Zero Hedge compares headlined changes in weekly claims to actual weekly changes after revisions. The differences are significant.


Here it is:

HeadlinedVsActualUnempClaimsChangesTo091512

The difference on the far right side of the graph represents a cumulative headlined under-reporting of initial claims so far this year of well over 100,000. I have also been tracking this. My own figures differ only slightly from the graph, and not by enough to matter.

How hard would it be to add "pending likely upward revision next week" to the verbiage in news reports, quantify the previous week's revision, and add "Pending Revision" to related headlines? Too hard, I guess, given that it would do serious harm to oft-repeated illusory claims about the state of the job market.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.