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Skewing Data

Every day we see reports, surveys, research and analysis of data that’s been commissioned and compiled by government agencies, private businesses and third party think tanks. While much of the information is informative, it usually indicates a larger story, or trend, and should be reviewed within a certain context.

For example, a recent jobs report has reduced the country’s unemployment rate to 7 percent, which is quite positive. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out in the report that the data reflects the numbers of previously furloughed federal employees who were permitted to return to work after the government shutdown in October. Employment reports this time of year also tend to be influenced by the pickup during the holiday season.

As such, it’s important to view the jobs report within context and be wary of making decisions based on positive data — factors to be considered in both the stock market and in anticipating the moves of the Federal Reserve.

[CLICK HERE to read the release, “Employment Situation Summary,” at BLS.gov, Dec. 6, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Jobs Report: U.S. Economy Added 203k Jobs in November, Unemployment Down to 7 Percent,” at Forbes.com, Dec. 6, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 Trends Beneath the Surface in November Jobs Report,” from The Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 8, 2013.]

Alas, even results from this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday benefit from analysis beneath the surface. Bloomberg reports that while 2 million more people shopped this Black Friday, they actually bought less than in recent years. This was attributed to the fact that shoppers tend to be on a mission this year — only buying the products on their list and eschewing great deals that amount to no more than impulse buying. Should this be an enduring trend, what a great lesson to come out of the recession: The hope that Americans may be more discerning about how they spend discretionary income in light of the impact that an economic setback can have.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Retail Results Have Been Counted, so We Know Who Wins,” at Bloomberg.com, Dec. 3, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Black Friday 2013 in Review,” from The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 4, 2013.]

It seems that every time a news report is released with a new study — with presumably objective findings — a monsoon of analysis follows. And that analysis is not always objective; it is often skewed to meet the author’s objective.

The fact is that our interpretation of nearly everything is skewed by the culmination of our experiences and influences. It can be difficult to determine what is wrong, what is right and what is simply accurate — particularly in such a politically partisan environment.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “29,000 Sign up for Insurance on Improved HealthCare.gov Site,” at NBCnews.com, Dec. 4, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to view the video, “Is Obamacare on the Road to Recovery?” at FoxNews.com, Dec. 7, 2013.]

At the end of the day, we interpret news and data in terms of how it impacts our own personal situation. It’s our goal to understand each of our clients’ situations and assess their needs within the context of their retirement strategy in order to help them make informed decisions. For more information on how we may be of assistance, please contact us.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

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