View Full Version : Household survey shows much higher jobs growth...

03-11-2012, 12:18 PM
Jobs are measured in two different ways, the establishment survey, and the household survey. While both are official and released numbers, basically we only hear about the establishment survey.

For the past year, the monthly household survey has been showing 100,000 more new jobs than the establishment survey.

For February, the gap was huge, showing instead of the 227k or whatever it was growth, either 428,000, or by one analytic series, 879,000 more jobs in February than in January.

The CEPR calls out the NY Times for making this latter claim, as making a mistake, but corrected that call when it was pointed out to them in comments where the number came from.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><span style='font-size: 14pt'>NYT Gets Carried Away With February Job Numbers (see correction)</span>

Friday, 09 March 2012 22:03

The February jobs report was reasonably good. It wasn't great; we created an average of 250,000 jobs a month for four years at the end of the 90s. Coming off a severe downturn we should be seeing jobs growth of 400,000 a month, as we did following the 81-82 recession and the 74-75 recesssion, but 227,000 jobs is definitely an improvement over what we had been seeing.

But the NYT got a bit carried away. It told readers:

"Household survey respondents indicated that 879,000 more people were working in February than in January. Though it is not unusual for the two surveys to differ, it is unusual for the growth in the household survey to be so much greater."

No, that isn't quite right. The survey showed a rise in employment of 428,000 jobs. That's good, but not 879,000.


The NYT is in fact right on this. The article was referring to a series that BLS constructs that adjusts the household survey for differences in concept with the establishment survey. This measure excludes self-employed workers and adjusts for workers with multiple jobs. This series did in fact show a gain in employment of 879,000 in February. (It is worth noting that the adjusted household survey has on average shown almost 100,000 more new employees each month than jobs in the establishment survey over the last year.)

The biggest reason for the difference between the two series was a sharp drop in the number of workers reported as self-employed. This reduced the gain in employment shown in the published data, however it would not affect the establishment series.

Thanks Zee for calling this to my attention.
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written by zee, March 10, 2012 11:31 AM
Actually, no you're wrong. They're using the adjusted household survey numbers since that series is meant to be comparable to the payroll survey.

The adjusted household survey number was indeed 879,000.


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written by skeptonomist, March 10, 2012 12:55 PM
So the payroll survey gave a 227k improvement and the household survey gave a 428k improvement, but the "adjusted" household survey gave 879k. I agree with Dean than the 879k number is fishy and I'm going to sell the "adjusted" survey for next month short.

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written by JSeydl, March 10, 2012 2:50 PM
This is the difference between the right and the left: The right never admits to being wrong, whereas Dean clearly is not afraid to acknowledge a mistake. Iím *still* waiting for all of the supply siders who called for skyrocketing Treasury yields and inflation last year to admit that they misunderstood basic concepts in economics, such as the IS-LM framework.

Here (http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/nyt-gets-carried-away-with-february-job-numberd#comments)

03-11-2012, 05:20 PM
Not convinced.
How kan u do a proper household based survey in the middle of a mortgage krisis.

Delta smelta unlikely to experience any crowding out this year.

03-11-2012, 05:25 PM
Sampling methods are well understood.

03-11-2012, 07:02 PM
Shades of friedman saying fed woz a pox on economix -- and then saying that the depression wouldnt hav happened if the fed had taken good fed aktion -- or at least that the depression wouldnt hav gone long if the fed had taken good aktion.

Fried delta smelta -- yummy.