Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Improvement in initial and continuing claims stalls out

Improvement in initial and continuing claims stalls out

This morning’s jobless claims report shows that the trend of “less worse” news has at least temporarily ended, at a level of about 150,000 higher than the worst weekly levels of the Great Recession.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, new jobless claims rose for the second week in a row, by 20,140 to 857,148. After seasonal adjustment (which is far less important than usual at this time), claims were unchanged at 884,000, tied for their “best” reading since the pandemic began. The 4-week moving average declined by 21,750 to a new pandemic low of 970,750:

Continuing claims, on both an unadjusted and seasonally adjusted basis rose from their pandemic lows of last week, by 54,472 to 13,197,059, and by 93,000 to 13,385,000 respectively:

 

Comments (5) | |

Sorry, partisans in denial: swing State polls have tightened

Sorry, partisans in denial: swing State polls have tightened

It’s a slow economic news week, so let me follow up with some further information about movement in the polls. My usual caution: polls are *NOT* forecasts, just nowcasts estimating what would happen if the election were today.

In the past few days, there is further evidence that Trump’s “law and order” message has resonated with at least a small subset of presumably white, probably older, voters. Below are some graphs from Nate Silver’s site of a few swing and swing-ish States. Note his graphs take into account national, as well as State-specific polls, but the net result is typically within 1% of what my average of State-only polling shows.

There has been a considerable narrowing of the race in Florida:

And also, to a bit lesser extent, in Pennsylvania:

Comments (22) | |

The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcast: Trump finds his issue

The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcast: Trump finds his issue

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. They are snapshots of the present; there is no guarantee they will be identical or nearly identical in early November.

I am afraid I have some bad news for those who think Trump did not have a convention bounce. In the past week, disapproval has eroded by 1.9% and approval has increased by 1.5%. Both of these have moved over 3% from their recent nadirs. I am sorry to tell you that Trump’s attacks on violent protests have been effective, presumably by convincing some Whites who were previously on the fence that “the animals” are loose and have to be brought to heel:


This is probably why Biden had a press conference in which he unreservedly condemned the violence, and Trump has continued to attack anyway.

Comments (14) | |

August jobs report: continued slow incremental progress

August jobs report: continued slow incremental progress

HEADLINES:

  • 1,371,000 million jobs gained. The gains since May total about 48% of the 22.1 million job losses in March and April. The alternate and more volatile measure in the household report was 3,756,000 jobs gained, which factors into the unemployment and underemployment rates below.
  • U3 unemployment rate fell -1.8% from 10.2% to 8.4%, compared with the January low of 3.5%.
  • U6 underemployment rate fell -2.3% from 16.5% to 14.2%, compared with the January low of 6.9%.
  • Those on temporary layoff decreased 3.1 million to 6.2 million.
  • Permanent job losers increased by 534,000 to 3.1 million.
  • June was revised downward by -10,000. July was also revised downward by -29,000 respectively, for a net loss of -39,000 jobs compared with previous reports.

Leading employment indicators of a slowdown or recession

Comments (12) | |

Initial and continuing claims: very slow “less worse” progress continues

Initial and continuing claims: very slow “less worse” progress continues

 

The continued good news in this Thursday morning’s jobless claims report is that the trend of “less worse” news is intact. But the improvement has slowed dramatically and is still at a level of about 150,000 higher than the worst weekly levels of the Great Recession.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, new jobless claims rose (slightly) by 7,591 from their pandemic low last week to 833,352. After seasonal adjustment (which is far less important than usual at this time), claims declined by 130,000 to 881,000, their “best” reading since the pandemic began. The 4-week moving average also declined to a new pandemic low of 991,750, its first reading under 1 million:

Continuing claims, on both an unadjusted and seasonally adjusted basis also continued to decline to new pandemic lows, by 765,644 to 13,104,366, and by 1,238,000 to 13,254,000 respectively:

 

Comments Off on Initial and continuing claims: very slow “less worse” progress continues | |

The 2020 Presidential and Senate polling nowcast: Biden’s popular majority is congealing

The 2020 Presidential and Senate polling nowcast: Biden’s popular majority is congealing

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. They are snapshots of the present; there is no guarantee they will be identical or nearly identical in early November.

As I have frequently noted, Trump’s approval has always reverted to the mean, absent a new outrage that is both unusually cruel and simultaneously unusually inept. Since there has been none in the past few weeks, Trump’s margin reverted by 2% for both approval and disapproval. Perhaps more importantly, there has been virtually no movement in the past week, despite the RNC convention:

 

Here is the updated map through August 22. To refresh, here is how  it works:

Comments (1) | |

Real personal income, spending, and consumer sentiment for July

Real personal income, spending, and consumer sentiment for July

July personal income and spending were reported this morning. Since real personal income drives one important election model, I have been waiting to see if July would reflect the end of the emergency Congressional assistance. It didn’t.

Real personal income rose less than 0.1% in July. While it is down by -6% from April, it is up a huge 7.1% from July 2019. Real disposable and Per Capita income show similar trajectories:<

April represented the $1200 stimulus checks as well as the Congressional emergency assistance. The former was one time only; the latter ended at the end of July.

 

Comments (2) | |

Coronavirus dashboard for August 26: detailed State breakdowns

Coronavirus dashboard for August 26: detailed State breakdowns

Total US infections: 5,777,710

Average last 7 days: 41,185/day
Total US deaths: 178,488
Average last 7 days: 952/day
Source: COVID Tracking Project
Today let’s look at both death infections and deaths. I’ve started to rate each State according to a system, so we’ll look at that after the overall picture.
When it comes to new infections, only the Northeast is doing well. The best that can be said for the other regions is that the rate of new infections, while awful, has at least come down in the South and West in the past several weeks:

A similar pattern is the case as to deaths. In the Midwest, the pace of deaths has not increased nearly so much as infections:

Comments (4) | |

More evidence that housing has roared back

More evidence that housing has roared back

This morning we got the final important July housing reports: new home sales and house prices.

New single home sales are very volatile and heavily revised, so it is always wise to take the initial report with a grain of salt. On the other hand, it is the most leading of all the reports.

With that caveat, this morning’s report of 901,000 sales annualized is the highest reading since December 2006! It is also in line with peak home sales in all periods prior to the 2000s housing bubble:

The below graph focuses on the last 8 years, and compares with the much less volatile single-family permits (red, right scale):

 

Comments (2) | |