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Emac's Bottom Line

The Volatile History of Government Jobless Claims Data

Can You Trust Government Data?

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Can You Trust Government Data?

FBN's Liz MacDonald on Wall Street's confusion over jobless claims data.

The kerfuffle today over volatile jobless claims data is of a piece with the long history of how these numbers are reported and then revised.

These kinds of problems have cropped up in the past, and the number involved falls within the statistical range of revisions to prior week numbers.

Initial jobless claims–a measure of layoffs–were down a whopping 30,000 to a seasonally adjusted 339,000 in the week ended Oct. 6, the Labor Department said. However, revisions to the government's numbers can be significant, ranging anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000, data show.

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You can see the examples of anomalies below.

The broad focus, however, according to economists at Wall Street investment banks, is that the average annual GDP growth since 2009 when the recovery began has been around 1.5%, versus the post–World War II average of 3.3%. That 3.3% number counts nearly a dozen recessions and economic downturns.


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