Tags: Piegza | obama | recovery | economy

Economist Piegza: ‘Bar Has Been Lowered’ for Recovery Under Obama

By    |   Thursday, 18 Oct 2012 02:21 PM

Forget conspiracy theories of Washington politicians and their state-level counterparts cooking data to make jobless data look better.

A longer-term view of employment data consistently points to a tepid economy that receives applause from markets looking for a silver lining when they can find it, said Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August, as employers added a net 114,000 new jobs to their payrolls.

Editor's Note: Obama Donor Banned This Video But You Can Watch it Here

Households reported that total employment rose by 873,000 in September, largely due to gains in part-time work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently.

The drop in the headline unemployment rate sparked cries of foul play and data manipulation from GE boss Jack Welch and others.

Weekly jobless claims, meanwhile, rose by 46,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 388,000, the highest in four months and far surpassing analysts calls, possibly due to reporting snags likely out of California.

Forget all the cries of conspiracy and don't focus on one data point, Piegza said.

Look at the longer-term numbers to get a sense of the how healthy the economy is today, and you'll find it's about the same it has been for four years now — in slow-motion recovery.

Take weekly jobless claims.

"Just to give people a sense of where we are, if we look at the four-week moving average, which is a much less-volatile figure, this only showed a slight increase this week from 364,000 to 365,000," Piegza told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

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"I'm very hesitant to fall into the camp of these conspiracy theories. What's better is to look at the underlying trend in these numbers rather than cherry pick one or two weeks' data points."

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank reported earlier that its business activity index rose from -1.9 in September to 5.7 in October, the first positive reading since April.

Wall Street rose on the news, quickly forgetting how disappointed it was over the hike in weekly jobless claims.

"This morning's report suggests that we are going to continue to see that positive momentum on a national basis. The market was really looking for that silver lining and they eventually found it," she noted.

While the country is improving from the depths of the recession, when the economy was losing 700,000 to 800,000 jobs a month, the United States is still not well on its way down the road to recovery.

"We are creating positive jobs, certainly not enough, but we are creating positive payrolls and the unemployment rate has dropped. So on a relative basis compared to three or four years ago we are certainly in much more positive territory, but the question is it positive enough," said Piegza.

"Three years into a recovery we should be talking about 2 to 3 percent annualized payroll growth, we should be talking about 250,000 jobs created on a monthly basis at a bare minimum," she added.

"But instead what we see is the market responding positively every time we get a triple-digit headline nonfarm payroll number, so really the bar has been lowered so precipitously that it's hard to make the argument that we are on a sustained path to recovery given the tepid pace of job creation at this point," Piegza said.

The country needs to add a minimum of 250,000 jobs a month just to cover population growth and other demographic changes, and today, the economy and labor market are falling short.

"Right now we are averaging, depending on the timeline that you look at, right around 100,000 to 120,000."

Editor's Note: Obama Donor Banned This Video But You Can Watch it Here

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Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial, says the "bar has been lowered" for expectations for an economic recovery under President Barack Obama.
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2012-21-18
Thursday, 18 Oct 2012 02:21 PM
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