US jobless claims can turn odd after the holiday season

Data show that there has been a drop of 37,000 jobless claims in the first two weeks of 2013. The decrease of jobless benefits has fallen to a 4-year low. However, reports claim that this figure is merely a statistical mirage.

Careful investigation of these odd numbers shows that government statisticians take the raw numbers of the latest jobless claims and apply adjustment processes to give room for seasonal variations. Seasonal variations in this sense refer to the changes in the seasonal employment patterns. Different industries have different demands that affect the hiring and firing policies or processes.
Without this adjustment, it would be very difficult to keep track of the jobless claims trend since the changes can vary enormously from one week to another. This is why economists use the 4-week average to keep track of the trends.

The first two weeks of 2013 is particularly complicated. Based on patterns, economists expect raw claims to hit the highest during this point of the year. However, data show that there is only a 0.4% rise as opposed to the predicted 11.7% rise.

The Upshot

This extremely low increase has thrown the seasonal adjustment system into haywire. The same event happened back in 2008, which shows this incident is not isolated at all. The point of the matter is, there is a difference between the unadjusted data and the actual figures.

This begs the question about how accurate can these figures get. More importantly, were there any significant changes in the number of job claims at all? And how does this affect the economy as a whole?

Before the year closed, many concerned citizens have raised their issue about the current trend in the employment process wherein an applicant’s credit history is taken into consideration. Since most unemployed individuals have bad credit loans and unpaid debt, many of them were robbed of the position they were applying for.

Although it has been made clear that this process is only true for certain types of positions, it has still raised concerns about the unreasonableness of this method. Certain employers claim that this method is one way of proving a person’s trustworthiness. The opposition, on the other hand, claims that a person’s credit record does not reflect the quality service that an applicant can provide for the company.