Bank Of America's Ethan Harris Explains The Birth Death Adjustment

Tyler Durden's picture

Yesterday Zero Hedge pointed out that in addition to the 54,000 NFP number missing every single economist estimate, another very troubling statistic was that the BLS added some 206,000 "jobs" courtesy of its monthly birth/death adjustment: numbers which tend to be added on a monthly basis and then subtracted (especially during periods of economic contraction) in one annual benchmark revision which is largely ignored by everyone. In fact, as Peter Tchir pointed out, over the past 4 months, the NFP has added 752k jobs, of which 610k have been birth death jobs. B/D has added 271K jobs YTD in 2011, 510K in 2010, 585K in 2009, 825K in 2008, 883K in 2007, 1002K in 2006, etc, in in the last decade has never once subtracted from the full year tally, which would subsequently be revised lower. You get the picture. Well, yesterday, Bloomberg's Tom Keene sat down with Bank of America chief economist Ethan Harris, who just like every other Wall Street economist has been clueless on the direction of the economy in 2011, and asked him to explain just what the B/D model is, why it exists, and whether it represent data manipulation. The relevant segment begins just over 5 minutes into the clip below.