Unemployment Trends Analysis

Over the weekend I noticed an post over at the Uncommon Misconceptions blog on what was termed oscillating unemployment claims. I started a post here to discuss the analysis but stopped. Some of the analysis looked suspicious. I needed to see the raw numbers behind some of the charts and do my own work before I felt comfortable discussing it. I was busy enough that I didn’t have time to do this so the post was delayed and then ultimately cancelled.

Well Ed Morrissey at Hot Air did link to the analysis and as I would have guessed received a lot of “feedback” from people with questions similar to my own. Thankfully this promoted Ed to do just the sort of checking of the numbers that I had planned. I now feel confident in posting to a more complete work.

With October added, the trendlines do show a slight decline (I added a trendline for non-seasonally-adjusted claims, just to test the seasonal adjustments). But that decline is much shallower than the one shown for the chart starting in January 2009, which strongly suggests that the bulk of the slowdown occurred prior to Obama’s stimulus taking place. Also, remember that unemployment is cumulative — which means for a situation to actually improve rather than just being less bad, we need net job creation — which we still haven’t had or come close to reaching.

While the statistical trends are interesting I wanted to focus on this chart from the UM blog and specifically on quotes from President Obama.


(Click on the image for a larger version of the chart.) Note the following quotes from Obama regarding unemployment–I’ve added sources for each one.

President Barack Obama said on Monday that his top priority was to tackle high U.S. unemployment. 11/23/2009. (source)

“The trend line right now is good and the direction is clear.” 12/04/2009. (source)

“road to recovery is never straight” but “the trend is pointing in the right direction” 01/08/2010. (source)

“We are beginning to turn the corner … the worst of the storm is over.” 04/02/2010. (source)Morrissey’s analysis shows that the Obama administration is, at best, misreading the unemployment trends. I’ll also note that if President Bush had made similar comments he would have been lampooned by the media for not being bright enough to read a simple chart. Add to this that after claiming to make unemployment a top priority, Obama instead led a holy crusade to pass a bloated health care bill that as of today 56% of the population (based on polling) still wants repealed.

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