Jim Ulvog

Total number of people drawing state and federal unemployment is declining slowly.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The number of people with continuing claims for unemployment in the regular state programs and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment compensation programs is volatile, showing large swings from week to week. However, the total does not seem to dropping very fast.

Since the week of 9/19/20, I have been pulling that data off the weekly press release from the Department of Labor. Current weekly report is: Unemployment insurance weekly claims.

The weekly data since then, excluding one week I missed, is:

New claims for unemployment increase again for week ending 2/13/21.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 2/13/21 increased 13,000 after 36,000 increase the prior week. (Previous week numbers were revised upward by 55,000.)

This follows a two-week decline of 153K (1/16 and 1/23). Prior week of 1/9 saw a 181K increase.

New claims in state programs for the last three weeks:

OCC settles with former general counsel of Wells Fargo.

Photo from Wells Fargo’s museum in San Diego by James Ulvog.

On 1/12/21, former general counsel James Strother of Wells Fargo signed a Consent Order with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

He agreed to pay the U.S. Government $3.5 million for his role in the sales practice fiasco. Payment is due within 10 days via wire transfer.

Large rise new claims for unemployment for week ending 1/9/21.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 1/9/21 increased to 965,000, a deterioration of 181,000 from the prior week.  That is the highest number of new state claims since 8/22/20.

Since 8/29/20, the new weekly claims have been in the 700Ks or 800Ks.

Keep in mind that before the shutdown of the economy the new claims averaged about 220K per week, so we are now running more than four times the previous norm.

The number of continuing claims for unemployment has been slowly dropping but increased for the week ending 1/2/21.

News report

Article at Wall Street Journal on 1/14/21 reports US Unemployment Claims Rise as Pandemic Weighs on Economy. Article link indicates the consensus is the increasing virus count combined with increasing restrictions on businesses caused the jump in new unemployment claims.

Article says there are other economic indicators suggesting the economy is slowing down again. Stats such as small business optimism, new home sales, existing home sales, household income, and household spending point towards a slowdown.

Following graphs show the devastation from the economic shutdown.

New claims

New claims for unemployment by week since the start of 2020:

Small decline in new claims and continuing claims for unemployment for week ending 12/26/20.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 12/26/20 declined for a secone weeks in a row. New claims are 787K, a 19K drop for the week.

This two week drop follows two weeks of increases, which totaled 176K.

Since 8/9/20, the new weekly claims have been in the 700Ks or 800Ks.

For contrast, remember that before the government induced shutdown of the economy the new claims averaged about 220K per week so we are still running three or four times the previous norm.

The number of continuing claims for unemployment is continuing to drop. Large part of the drop is people going back to work. Some portion, likely a lot, of the drop in state-level continuing claims has been offset by rising number of people on the federal program.

When a person exhausts the state level coverage, they become eligible for the extended federal benefits, called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

Article at Wall Street Journal on 12/31/20 reports US Unemployment Claims Fell Modestly Last Week.  Article explains the new claims for state programs is a proxy for layoffs. Good observation.

At least one flaming hypocrite in public leadership has enough shame to retire from public life. But just so you know, it is our fault, not hers.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

NoteThis discussion is cross posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update because it provides a live-action illustration of rationalization. Auditors study the concept of rationalization because that is a factor we consider when thinking through fraud risk assessment during an audit. Part 1 of this series is cross posted here. Exercise for CPAs is to read these two posts, then identify multiple points where the rationalization thought process transforms inappropriate actions into acceptable behavior. 

At least one person on the constantly growing list of flaming hypocrites in public leadership has a sense of shame. Or, at least enough shame to realize she should retire. Eventually. Someday.

After two days of publicity about her non-Thanksgiving non-celebration trip to spend the Thanksgiving weekend with family she doesn’t live with, Dr. Deborah Birx made the announcement.

12/22/20 – National Review – Dr. Birx Announces She Will Retire after Holiday Travel Controversy and CBS news – Birx says she plans to retire, citing strain on family.

After two full days of controversy, Dr. Birx announced she will retire shortly after assisting in the transition to a new administration. Presumably, that means sometime in late January or early February. Or maybe March. Or maybe June.

Recall from yesterday the day after Thanksgiving she traveled from her home in D.C. to one of her vacation homes in Delaware for a 50 hour stay with her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren, all of whom live in a different home she owns in Potomac.

When challenged about whether traveling to another state with people from a different household during the Thanksgiving weekend was appropriate given her very public advice not to travel at all over the weekend and not to be with anyone from a different household, she provided a splendiferous rationalization.

The parade of alleged leaders who ignore their own Covid recommendations keeps growing.

Rationalization can blind our views and limit perspective. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

NoteThis discussion is cross posted from my other blog, Nonprofit Update because it provides a live-action illustration of rationalization. Auditors study the concept of rationalization because that is a factor we consider when thinking through fraud risk assessment during an audit. Part 2 of this series is cross posted here. Exercise for CPAs is to read these two posts, then identify multiple points where the rationalization thought process transforms inappropriate actions into acceptable behavior. 

It is taking more and more time to keep up with the political and public health leaders who don’t bother to comply with the recommendations they give us.

This time it is Dr. Deborah Birx who blew off the travel restrictions and gathering size limits at Thanksgiving. Oh, pardon me. It doesn’t count as a Thanksgiving trip since she traveled to her destination the day after Thanksgiving.

Saddest part of this example of hypocrisy is it took place after a large volume of other supposed leaders drew massive criticism for ignoring the rules. It isn’t as if every political and public health leader hasn’t been given notice their behavior is being observed.

Scariest part is her rationalization that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the trip.

Last point in this discussion is the wish that every American had the same freedom she has exercised. Specifically, the freedom to make our own decisions on what is best for our family given our circumstances.

12/20/20 – Associated Press – Birx travels, family visits highlight pandemic safety perils – The day after Thanksgiving, Dr Deborah Birx, coordinator for the official White House coronavirus response team, traveled from her D.C. home to her vacation home in Delaware. Joining her in Delaware were her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. While in Delaware they ate meals together for two days.

Federal mileage rates for 2021.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The IRS has published the reference amounts for mileage rates for 2021. The rates:

Beginning on January 1, 2021, the standard mileage rates for the use of a vehicle will be:

  • 56.0 cents per mile driven for business use, down 1.5 cents from the rate for 2020,
  • 16 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down 1 cent from the rate for 2020, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The business mileage rate decreased one and a half cents for business travel driven and one cent for medical and certain moving expense from the rates for 2020. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

The business rate is down from 57.5 cents in 2020 and 58.0 cents in 2019, which in turn was up from 54.5 in 2018.

The standard rate for business is based on their analysis of the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle.  The medical & moving rate is based on variable costs of operation.

Rates were published in Notice 2021-02:  2021 Standard Mileage Rates.

Final two sentences announced in KPMG inspection list theft scandal include no jail time; there are lots of consequences though.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The final two sentences have been handed down in the KPMG fiasco for stealing PCAOB inspection lists.

Spoiler alert: no jail time.

Thoughts in last half of this post on other consequences they have earned.

Recap of perps:  Status of players in KPMG fiasco from leaked PCAOB inspection files.

 

Thomas Whittle

New claims and continuing claims for unemployment increased for week ending 12/5/20.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 12/5/20 increased from 716K in prior week to 853K.

Number of new claims has been in the 700Ks or 800Ks since the end of August.

The number of continuing claims for unemployment increased for the week ending 11/28/20, going from 5.53M up to 5.76M.

Just a few graphs this week:

New claims

New claims for unemployment by week since the start of the year:

“An Ulvog Journey” – Tales of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s.

Casting my CPA eye on the 1946 probate document for my grandfather’s estate led to a series of posts on my other blog describing what we can learn about farming in the 1940s from a legal filing.  Those posts have been combined into one section of my newest book: An Ulvog Journey.

The book also provides recollections of growing up on a South Dakota farm in the 1930s and 1940s, written by my dad and his seven siblings.

One of my uncles, Carl Ulvog, was a captivating storyteller. His autobiographic tale of experiences in the South Pacific during World War II are also included.

Description from back page of the book:

Slight decline in new claims and continuing claims for unemployment for week ending 11/28/20.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 11/28/20 declined for two weeks in a row. New claims are 712K, a 75K drop for the week.

In September the new claims were in the 800Ks. Since 10/17/20 the new claims have been under 800K.

For contrast, remember that before the government induced shutdown of the economy the new claims averaged about 220K per week so we are still running more than three times the previous norm.

When a person exhausts the state level coverage, they become eligible for the extended federal benefits, called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program.

The number of continuing claims for unemployment is continuing to drop. Some portion of the drop is people going back to work. Looks like for the lasts four weeks the drop in state-level continuing claims has been offset by rising number of people in the federal program.

Wells Fargo update.

Instructions on how to seal a bag of gold and gold dust for shipping, from the days when Wells Fargo was the gold standard of integrity. Photo by James Ulvog.

There are still a few enforcement actions ongoing over the Wells Fargo fake account fiasco, primarily individual cases against senior officials from a few agencies who haven’t previously settled the charges.

11/13/20 – Wall Street Journal – Wells Fargo Ex-CEO Settles SEC Claims, Former Consumer-Unit Head Faces Fraud Case –  The former CEO settled up with the SEC, agreeing to pay a $2.5 penalty for his role in the fake account scandal. As is typical, he neither admitted nor denied the claims.

Article reminds us he previously paid $17.5M penalty to OCC and was also banned from working in the banking industry.

New claims for unemployment continue slow decline for week ending 11/7/20; continuing claims dropping quickly.

The number of new claims for unemployment for week ending 11/7/20 again declined. This is the fourth weekly decline, with drops in eight of the last fifteen weeks.  New claims are 709K, a 48K drop for the week.

Starting 8/29/20 the new claims have been in the mid- to high 800 thousands. Since 10/17/20 the new claims have been under 800K.

Remember that before the government induced shutdown of the economy the new claims averaged about 220K per week so we are still running more than three times the previous norm.

The number of continuing claims for unemployment is continuing to drop. Large part of the drop is people going back to work. Part of it is people dropping off the state-level unemployment rolls exhausting coverage.

On 11/12/20, the Wall Street Journal reported U.S. Unemployment Claims Slip but Hold at High Levels. Article asserts the declining new claims and drop in ongoing claims indicates the economy is in a good recovery. Consensus of economists spoken to for the article indicate economy is on a better tract recovery now then the expectations were a few months ago. Current expectation is the GDP will drop 2.7% for the year which is better than the 3.6% expected just last month.

Article suggests that recovery is better than expected.

Tally of people who are now in the extended 13 weeks covered at the federal level is rising rapidly. Here is a recap: