Daily Growth – All

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See the “Daily Growth – Recent” chart to zoom in on the last nine months of this chart.

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The next chart is the same as above, but uses our adjusted data series, which accounts for tax cuts and the 2010 Census hiring.

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9 Responses to “Daily Growth – All”

  1. New Deal democrat says:

    Matt, what do you make of the fact that
    (1) Withholding taxes paid have been kicking butt compared with last year for the last eight weeks, consistently up over 5%, and sometimes close to 10%, on a YoY basis; and
    (2) Such a showing, adjusted for inflation, coincided with the best job gains during the last expansion — +200,000 a month or more during 2004-05.
    (3) Nevertheless we got only +100,000 ex-census last month, (-125k including census), and projections are for a similar negative number this month?

  2. Lamont says:

    Withholding taxes were up on a 2.5% or so basis on a weekly basis over the same week the year before, until about three weeks or so ago when they jumped to about 8.5% vs the same week the year before. The biggest reason for this is the millions of people who are now receiving unemployment insurance benefits again. For some months, many hundreds of thousands of unemployed were seeing their benefits run out. Then congress extended the benefits just a few weeks ago, so all those folks who had their benefits run out started receiving checks again. Another reason for year over year increases is that 300-500k jobs were being lost in the spring and summer of last year, so if employment remained only stable this year, then year over year holdings would go up progressively.

  3. admin says:


    The withholding data can’t be analyzed on a weekly basis. There are just too many calendar quirks and processing delays. The minimum time period that you should look at is four weeks.

    Withholding from unemployment checks is optional. Most people probably don’t file the extra form to have taxes withheld. But even if they all did, it wouldn’t add up to much. The average check is only $293 per week, and withholding on that is only about $20.

    If 2.5 million people were put back on the rolls recently as President Obama said, that would come to $50 million in extra withholding per week. Over the the last four weeks, that would come to $200 million. And that is only a fraction of the extra $7.08 billion that the IRS collected.

    The effect of unemployment benefits on withholding taxes is very likely to be negligible, though the IRS has not published any actual statistics of which I am aware.


  4. Lamont says:

    Your analysis is highly flawed, like it usually is. Most households currently have two wage-earners/prospective wage-earners. Large numbers of folks collecting unemployment insurance would be the second household wage earner. So they are not paying zero in income taxes or even a marginal tax rate. If the avg check is $293 per week, that is $15,236 per year. If the first wage earner makes $50k per year, and then the second earner collects unemployment insurance at $15k per year, then they will be paying a heck of a lot more than $20 in taxes per week. Many folks collecting unemployment insurance are the second household earner and the first one makes over $100-$150k per year, like in NYC or DC or LA for example, so that second wage earner collecting unemployment benefits will be even that much more in withholding. This is substantial.

  5. admin says:


    The withholding tax tables are not subject to interpretation. Go here:


    …and look up $293. What does it say? And even that tiny amount IS NOT withheld unless the recipient files a separate form that most people don’t even know exists.


  6. lamont says:

    I make over $100k a year. Let’s assume my wife was on unemployment insurance for 99 weeks that ran out some months ago. Then let’s assume that she got back on unemployment insurance again, making $15k on an annualized basis. If my household takes on an additional $15k again, then I have to account for that in taxes by adjusting my withholdings.

    As similar situation applies to people who buy a new house or who foreclosure on a house. A gain or loss of the mortgage tax deduction and the property tax deduction should force someone to adjust his withholdings. And since millions more people over the past year have lost a home and gone to renting compared to the number of folks that became first time homebuyers, then witholdings should have increased substantially on net over this time. Sometimes both wage earners in a household lose their jobs before they lose the house, but that’s only a small minority of the time. In most cases only one member of the household loses an income or sees their income reduced. In other cases no one does.

  7. admin says:

    But the amount that you have to adjust your withholdings by is still small.

    The BLS has reported that the private economy has been adding jobs for five straight months, and extending hours-worked. It matches with the uptrend in the withholding data. Why is that so hard to believe?

  8. intoit says:

    good point Lamont. It is the marginal tax that matters for the purposes of withholding tax andd in a 2 earrner family the marginal is likely to be higher than $20.

  9. admin says:

    For weeks 29-32, withholding tax collections were $7.1 billion higher than they were for the same four weeks last year.

    During that time, there were about 4.5 million people on unemployment insurance. At $293 per week, that comes to a total cost of $1.3 billion per week. For the 4-week period, the total is about $5.3 billion.

    So, even if EVERY person on unemployment had 100% of their unemployment check withheld, it still would not have been enough to explain higher tax collections.

    Trying to explain away higher collections with expanded UI programs just doesn’t work. Without a tax increase, or serious inflation, there is no way for withholding tax collections to be this much higher without MANY more workers on payrolls and/or more hours worked.

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