Why You Should Never Take The Initial Monthly Jobs Report Seriously

Earlier today I posted a commentary on Some Stunning Demographic Trends in Employment. In a footnote I commented on the unreliability of the Bureau of labour Statistics’ employment data for Nonfarm Payroll Employment, which included a link to historic revisions back to 1979 on the BLS website. I subsequently received a few emails requesting a chart to illustrate the changes.

Here is a first pass at such a visualisation. I took the data since January 2000 and plotted the change from the first to third estimate for each month through December 2012, the most recent month for which we have three revisions.

During this timeframe there were 92 upward revisions and 62 downward revisions. The absolute mean (average) revision was 46 thousand, which breaks down as 48K for the upward adjustments and 45K for the downward adjustments.

Interestingly enough, the direction of revisions was upward during the brief recession of 2001 but downward during the nasty recession from December 2007 to June 2009.

The message is clear: Don’t take the initial monthly employment jobs data too seriously.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.