BLS Revises Historical Job Numbers Higher By Half A Million: A Look At The "Before" And "After"

Tyler Durden's picture

With the HFT brigade selling then buying, and trying to goalseek an explanation of why this happened after the fact, one key aspect of today's release that was ignored is that the BLS just revised its Establishment Survey data, in the process changing all historical job numbers. To wit: "Establishment survey data have been revised as a result of the annual benchmarking process and the updating of seasonal adjustment factors. Also, household survey data for January 2014 reflect updated population estimates." As a result of this revision, while the monthly changes were not that dramatic, what happened is that the "stock" level of jobs as reflected in the Establishment Survey rose by half a million as of December 31, from 136,877 to 137,386. And so all key historic data - from GDP in early 2013 to jobs - has now been revised to reflect a more rosy economy, and instill consumers with even more confidence in hopes they will spend, spend, spend.

A table summary of the change: before and after.

And the monthly change in the Establishment Survey in the pre and post-revision numbers.

Some more details from the BLS on the revision:

In accordance with annual practice, the establishment survey data released today have been benchmarked to reflect comprehensive counts of payroll jobs for March  2013. These counts are derived principally from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), which enumerates jobs covered by the UI tax system. The benchmark process results in revisions to not seasonally adjusted data from April 2012 forward. Seasonally adjusted data from January 2009 forward are subject to revision. In addition, data for some series prior to 2009, both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted, incorporate revisions.

 

The total nonfarm employment level for March 2013 was revised upward by 369,000 (+347,000 on a not seasonally adjusted basis, or 0.3 percent). The average benchmark revision over the past 10 years was plus or minus 0.3 percent.

 

This revision incorporates the reclassification of jobs in the QCEW. Private household employment is out of scope for the establishment survey. The QCEW reclassified some private household employment into an industry that is in scope for the establishment survey--services for the elderly and persons with disabilities. This reclassification accounted for an increase of 466,000 jobs in the establishment survey. This increase of 466,000 associated with reclassification was offset by survey error of -119,000 for a total net benchmark revision of +347,000 on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Historical time series have been reconstructed to incorporate these revisions.

 

The effect of these revisions on the underlying trend in nonfarm payroll employment was minor. For example, the over-the-year change in total nonfarm employment for 2013 was revised from 2,186,000 to 2,322,000 seasonally adjusted. Table A presents revised total nonfarm employment data on a seasonally adjusted basis for January through December 2013.

And now, if only the Department of Truth can revise away the Great Financial Crisis, and all shall be well.