So You Think We Might Be in a Recession Today (Part III)

Some people point to initial claims for unemployment insurance.

Atkinson and Wei today point out seasonal adjustment issues are probably behind the apparent rise in seasonally adjusted initial claims. Looking at 3 year changes:

Source: Atkinson and Wei (2022).

As for the argument that vehicle miles traveled are indicating a recession:

VMT says US entered recession in the Jan-Apr time frame.


…vehicle miles traveled, which is either very short term leading (ie, failing one month or so prior to the official onset of recession), coincident, or lagging by up to 4-5 months if one is using, say, 12 month moving sums.

Here is a picture which casts some doubt on this proposition.

Figure 1: GDP (blue), oil consumption, s.a. (tan), and vehicle miles traveled, s.a. (green), all in logs, 2022M01=0. Oil consumption seasonally adjusted by author using X-13, log transformation. Source: IHS-Markit, DOE EIA STEO, DOT FHA via FRED, and author’s calculations.

Bill McBride at Calculated Risk does not see the economy currently in recession (although he’s thinking about one in 2023).