If you layer on enough condiments and toppings, even a dog turd sandwich can look good.
At least that is what the financial media believes. Take for example this headline from today: U.S. Unemployment Benefit Rolls Fall.
(Bloomberg) -- The number of Americans receiving claims for unemployment benefits dropped for the first time since January, adding to evidence the job market is starting to thaw.
The number of people collecting unemployment insurance plunged by 148,000 in the week to June 6, the most since November 2001, to 6.69 million, the Labor Department said today in Washington.
It looks great, but it doesn't smell very good. There is a faint odor about it. Let's lift up that slice of bread and look inside.
But nearly half of recipients at the end of last month had exhausted the 26 weeks of benefits provided under the regular state program without finding work, according to Labor Department data. That's a record and compared with about 36 percent in December 2007, when the recession began.
"It is unlikely that new hiring has picked up in any meaningful fashion," Joshua Shapiro, chief economist with MFR Inc., a consulting firm, wrote in a note to clients.
Oh, so instead of this being a good report, what the report really shows is that more and more people are TOTALLY SCREWED!
But doesn't it taste yummy?
Oh, sure. There are other things about the report that also smell rather pungent. For instance, the number of new unemployment claims was higher than last week, and the non-seasonally adjusted numbers of continuing claims dropped by a much smaller number of 85,500.
In fact, if you wanted to dig far enough down in this report, you will find out that there is nothing positive to this report at all. You see, while these poor people have dropped off the 26-week benefit list, they've merely been rolled over to the enhanced federal benefit list.
Still, millions of Americans are receiving unemployment compensation under an emergency federal program authorized by Congress last summer and extended by the Obama administration's stimulus package.
About 2.4 million people received benefits under that program in the week ending May 30, an increase of more than 102,000 from the previous week. That's in addition to the 6.7 million people receiving benefits under the 26-week program typically provided by states.
That's like cutting the dog turd into halves and telling us that it'll taste better because we can save the other half for dessert.