Data comes in from an amazing variety of sources telling us just what is up or down in the economy. If it can be measured, it probably is. You want jobs information? There’s information on unemployment, job creation, job destruction, hours worked … just about whatever you want. Deciding what is useful is always the hard part – and that is the great skill any of us have to develop in this information age.
A year ago Barataria was focused on Unemployment Initial Claims as a good proxy for total job growth figures that would come out later in the month. It worked for a while because in 2010 through the summer of 2011 we were at or near the bottom of job creation, picking up steam very slowly. This figure stopped being a good indicator for reasons that suggest large employers are still laying off people (those who are eligible for unemployment benefits) while small companies are hiring.
But it would be wrong to drop our study of Initial Claims completely, so let’s take another look.