4 Million Fewer Jobs: How The BLS Massively Overestimated US Job Creation

Tyler Durden's picture

When it comes to the all-important monthly payrolls number which sets the tone for risk over the next month, one of the biggest variables in the BLS' "estimate" (because all jobs numbers are that: statistical estimates) of US jobs is the monthly birth-death adjustment. What this monthly fudge factor is, in a nutshell, is the BLS' estimation for how many new businesses are created over the period offset by older "dying" businesses, leading to incremental jobs that are only polled by the BLS with a substantial lag.

Here is how the BLS explains this adjustment:

To account for this net birth/death portion of total employment, BLS uses an estimation procedure with two components: the first component excludes employment losses due to business deaths from sample-based estimation in order to offset the missing employment gains from business births. This is incorporated into the sample-based estimate procedure by simply not reflecting sample units going out of business, but imputing to them the same trend as the other firms in the sample. This step accounts for most of the birth and death employment.

To be sure, in a normal, vibrant, growing and most importantly, entrepreneurial economy, incorporating business creation vs business deaths is a perfectly reasonable statistical adjustment to the actual number of underlying jobs via the BLS business sampling that takes place every month.

There is one problem: the Fed's centrally-planned abortion of an "economy", in which the rigged, bubble market is the only leading indicator that everyone focuses on and from which everything else "flows", is anything but normal.

The latest proof of just how broken the economy has become, and serves as a big flashing red question mark about just how massively overestimated job creation is due to a wildly erroneous birth/death estimator, comes from a research report by the Brookings Institution titled: "The Other Aging of America: The Increasing Dominance of Older Firms."

From the report's introduction:

It is no secret that the population in the United States is aging; the product of a baby boom and increased life expectancy. The numbers validate the obvious: the Census Bureau projects that the share of America’s population accounted for by people aged 65 or over will explode from 13 percent in 2010 to more than 20 percent by 2025. The strains this aging of the population will place on the economy and our society are well known.


Here we provide evidence of another type of aging that hasn’t received enough attention yet— the aging of American businesses, or the firm structure of the U.S. economy.


Previously, we documented the decline in entrepreneurship and in overall “business dynamism” in the American economy, finding that this has been occurring across a broad range of sectors, firm sizes, states, and metropolitan areas. Business dynamism is the inherently disruptive, yet  productivity-enhancing process of firm and worker churn that reallocates capital and labor to more productive uses. Older firms are less dynamic than younger ones, and their increasing share in the American economy coincides with a three-decade decline in business dynamism.


In this essay we highlight the flip side of an economy that has become less entrepreneurial: the shift of economic activity into mature firms. While this may not come as a surprise to some, we think the sheer magnitude will. Though more research is needed, we think that an American economy that has become less entrepreneurial and more concentrated in mature firms could support the “slow growth” future that many economists have projected.

And the punchline that is most pertinent to the Birth/Death adjustment, the monthly non-farm payroll result, and for the overall US economy itself: "One major factor contributing to an aging private sector is a decline in entrepreneurship, which we measure by new firm formations. Earlier this year, we showed that the rate of new firm formations has been on a secular decline the last three decades."

Perhaps more striking, our research showed that the decline in new firm formation rates had occurred in every U.S. state and nearly every metropolitan area, in each broad industry group, and in all firm size classes – or the same patterns we have just reported for the share of mature firms. Figure 3 plots annual rates of firm entry and exit between 1978 and 2011. As it shows, the rate of new firm formations fell significantly during this period—occurring because the number of new firms being formed each year (numerator) didn’t keep pace with the growth in the stock of total firms in the economy (denominator). The same was not true of firm exits, which did keep pace with the growth in total firms—allowing the firm failure rate to hold mostly steady before rising in the second half of the last decade.


It’s easy to see why a declining share of new entrants each year would contribute to an older age distribution of firms. Recall that our data are dynamic, so each year represents a new flow of firm formations. In this way, it’s a path-dependent process where declining entrepreneurship directly contributes to the aging of the business sector. Outside of there being radically different firm failure rates that work in the opposite direction (an issue we address later), fewer new firms each year means fewer young firms, which means fewer medium-age firms, and so on.


But as we show next, the rate of firm failures is not homogenous across all segments of the economy. In fact, failure patterns are accelerating the aging of the private sector economy, and we think may be contributing to the decline in entrepreneurship as well.

And visually: "firm entry" is birth; "firm exit" is death:


The underlined sentence above is key because if indeed this declining dynamism is "contributing to the decline in entrepreneurship as well" then the whole premise behind the birth/death adjustment, or rather the "Birth" contribution visualized in practical terms by the dark blue line above (because businesses are still going away at a stable pace and in fact rising as the light blue line in the chart above shows), goes out of the window.

That is not just our observations: the WSJ's take is comparable:

it has become more difficult for younger companies to survive and compete with the bigger ones. Business failures are more frequent and likely among start-ups, which may account for the fall in business creation after the 1990s. The economy has grown more advantageous for incumbent firms and less helpful for fledgling ones.


The authors argue that younger companies are crucial to attaining a healthier economy as they have had the largest contribution to past “disruptive and thus highly productivity enhancing innovations” across different sectors ranging from airplanes and automobiles to computers and internet search.


“If we want a vibrant, rapidly growing economy in the future, we must find ways to encourage and make room for the startups of the future that will commercialize similarly influential innovations,” said the authors.

Indeed, and sadly, just as the Fed's artificial capital misallocation has forced companies to invest hundreds of billions into stock buybacks and other non-growth friendly (but very shareholder friendly) activities, so ZIRP has also shifted the balance of power so far to the side of older, less dynamic, less robut companies that the very premise of statistical inference of "entrepreneurship" via the Birth/Death adjustment is worthless.

Or will be once the BLS realizes what the Brookings authors have concluded.

In the meantime, here is the bottom line: since Lehman, or starting in 2009, the Birth/Death adjustment alone has added over 3.5 million jobs. Or rather "jobs", because these are not actual jobs - these are BLS estimates for how many jobs newly-formed businesses have created based purely on statistical estimations and hypotheses that the US economy in 2014 is as it was in 1960. Which means that the traditional dynamics used behind the Birth and Death adjustment are now merely Dead, and US employment is overestimated by as much as three and a half million jobs!

This also means that any boasts by Obama about "solid US economic growth" under his regime, and that all those jobs lost since Lehman have allegedly since been recovered, are nothing but even more lies.

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kowalli's picture

who want cookies?

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

This is no different than one finds in a totalitarian, crony-capitalist state like a monarch or dictatorship. Anyone who has ever read the book "Why Nations Fail" understand that when an economy and politics become dominated by a few, it is bad for the entire society in general.

Liberal's picture

Can't we outlaw unemployment and mandate every company and business-owner to hire at least 100 unemployed persons within his 100 mile radius?  We could also raise the tax tenfold and turn every unemployed person to a federal employee, no? 

max2205's picture

Face it, it's all just one big giant ass WAG!

remain calm's picture

Obama a liar. No way. The guy just tells us what we want to hear and we the people want to believe it. So he is not lying, he is just fullfilling are wishes. So you wanted hopium, you got it on steroids. He is no different than anyone else trying to get laid, just tell them what they want then Fuck them. Guess what, you got fucked.

johngaltfla's picture

Estimates are facts.

War is peace.

Credit is money.

Debt is wealth.

You just have to learn how to speak the Kenyan's Economic language. Come on, get with the party or they will send you to a camp to adjust your attitude!

surf0766's picture

We should outlaw comments by "liberal".

New_Meat's picture

yo surf, hit the beach, get in som e of duh knarleyz.

Leave the outlawing to Nancy P and her chippendalez.


- Ned

Landrew's picture

You are not funny, you anti-worker, Kock brothers troll.

New_Meat's picture

the name calling is evidence of no fucking brain.

"anti-worker" on the other hand is a meme that is associated with Union "so-called" Labour, that, actually ...

doesn't actually do any work.

I am unfamiliar with the so-called "Kock brothers"

Landrew: you bin about these places (well, at least you were registered in the flurry back-when) 4 a wile

did I mention that (OK, Ned, give him the real term so he can pass his polySci 101 final with a C-) the "anti-worker" meme is a trade union thing?

I guess I did, but it will take at least 1000000000000000 more mentions of same (you do know what "same" means?)  Right?  We b on duh same paj?


Troll Magnet's picture

He's not trying to be funny, you fuckwad. He's here representing the leftist retards and he's doing a great job.

AdvancingTime's picture

I deal with small business on a day to day basis and I will tell you they have little reason to be optimistic. Small business, with two to ten employees, are becoming an  endangered species in America.

The family business once the backbone of this country is under attack from the unintended consequences of the many laws and mandates passed in recent years. Inspections, a plethora of permits, licenses, taxes, insurance requirements, and regulations make it almost impossible for a small business to open, compete, and operate legally. Big government has become toxic for small business. More on this subject in the article below.


Rip van Wrinkle's picture

Unintended consequences of laws....madates....inspections,,,permits....regulations?


What the hell do you think all those laws...mandates...inspections....permits and rgulations were there to do? Other than kill the small buisness. We wouldn't want any competition with the big corporates, would you?

BlindMonkey's picture

The new American corpratist/fascist parigdim.  Reach the top, pull up the ladder behind you.

Westcoastliberal's picture

Got that right Rip.  Some of these megaconglomerates should be busted up into small chucks and there should be a strict limit on broadcast ownership; Radio and Television.  Right now 5 companies control everything.

Oldwood's picture

Its all just an unfortunate accident. Never question the good intentions of big government/Big Brother types. They do it out of love.

Landrew's picture

Just think we could share the same poisoned water the Chinese have. In China there are no rules. Of course buildings fall over, rivers run red with poison, thousand of hogs float down rivers, people are locked in factories that burn. Sounds like a great way to live. Me I am happy the home I purchased had building permits and inspections.

25or6to4's picture

@ Rip Van Wrinkle
100+ arrows to you brother. Legislators know damn well the mom and pop shops don't and never will have HR departments, Complaience departments, accounting ect ect ect. I would love to sent my local, state and federal governments a bill for all the hours I've spent filling out forms trying to comply with their BS. I finally had enough and no longer comply with any of their BS.

QQQBall's picture

Right, the local burger joint has to provide ACA; MCD does not.The local burger joint and malt shop has been there at least 40 years. The city redevelopment agency helps put a Sonic in 3 blocks away - they paid top dollar for existing properties AND businesses to stick sonic with its new building in there. So, they fucked the local shop doubly - they took their tax dollars and funded tehir competition and they created ongoing competition for them... but all the local polis got their pictures taken with construction helmets and shovels. 



Berspankme's picture

You got it 100% correct. I had 3 stores at one time, now down to one. On target to make $15K this year, down from almost $300K at the peak. Fuck You .gov

thamnosma's picture

What a shame that's happened to you.  Yep, fuck .gov hard.

IRC162's picture

Aim for the mouth.  They deserve nothing less than a good, hard fuck in the mouth.  Esophagealsphincterfuck.

Oldwood's picture

Have you seen the NY adds on TV claiming no taxes, income, property OR sales for ten years to start a new business in NY. If I was already there I would be pissed knowing I'm covering their taxes AND having to compete with them. But this is what we are seeing in all aspects. Obama is flying around the country on our dime while soliciting money to run races to empower politicians to raise our taxes and redistribute even more away from earners and savers to unemployed spenders. Making us pay for the rope for our own hanging.

Da Yooper's picture

The family business once the backbone of this country is under attack from the unintended consequences of the many laws and mandates passed in recent years. Inspections, a plethora of permits, licenses, taxes, insurance requirements, and regulations make it almost impossible for a small business to open, compete, and operate legally. Big government has become toxic for small business.


Weelllllllll my employees voted for change




I gave it to them


I am much happier




No government & no employees


be carefull what you vote for - you may just get it


sgt_doom's picture

Rip van W. is entirely correct, and if you sincerely believe in that unintended consequences meme put out by the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Chamber Litigation Center and the Koch boys' ALEC and ACCE, you probably also believe in Tinkerbell, the Tooth Fairy and that damnable bunny rabbit!

There has been a multi-flank attack on small biz across the USA --- which is part of their overall dismantling of MAIN STREET, bub!  Those banksters' hedge funds' virtual naked shorting of small, publicly traded companies, more and more health perks mandated for restaurant and retail workers, financed ostensibly altruistically by the top corporations (Microsoft, Boeing, Chase, Goldman), all to further whittle down big biz.

Remember, it ain't about some World Gov't hooey, we got that with the WTO, it is about ONE WORLD BANK, OWNING ONE WORLD CORPORATION and ONE WORLD EXCHANGE --- in other words, it has always been about the mega-monopoly and super-consolidation --- which is why nobody knows who owns anything today --- cross stock ownership and interlocking stock ownership, AXA owns BoA stock, which in turn owns State Street Corporation stock, and State St. and BofA owns AXA stock, etc., etc., etc. (sure it changes from time to time, but that is planned market churn).


BrigstockBoy's picture

Get your King James bible out. Turn to Revelation. Start reading. Prepare. Remember what Jesus said in John...I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Trust no one. Not even me. Read and learn for yourself.

LawsofPhysics's picture

yes, "the moneychangers are in the temple" as it were... ...again.

BrigstockBoy's picture

The Truth has been covered over for hundreds and hundreds of years. Ask yourself, what is the Babylon today? It's America.

McMolotov's picture

Get your copy of 1984 out. Turn to the pages that discuss the Ministry of Truth, "Newspeak," and "memory holes." Start reading. Then start drinking.

pods's picture

I don't know about y'all, but I am damn ready to start smiting.

Some old school smiting too.  


Postal's picture

I have a room in the basement just for that purpose.......


krispkritter's picture

Can we just skip right to the drinking part?

BlindMonkey's picture

Orwell was a pussy.  Jump straight to the Huxley model of hell and hit the bar with abandon.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

I would rather live in the Huxley model than the Orwell version. Being stoned all the time along with orgies can't be too bad can it? Living like those in Hollywood?

ekm1's picture






USA -4% (already "offishully" acknowledged if normal GDP deflators used)






EU -6%




JAPAN -5% (Goldman sacks converging with this estimation)



lordylord's picture

Great.  With GDP numbers like that, I can expect gold to plummet some more.  Time to go all in stocks.

pods's picture

I'm thinking facebook myself.  With some Chipotle tossed in too.


Westcoastliberal's picture

Deduct 4% for the "Fed" effect in the U.S. and 2% elsewhere.  Just a WAG. It's all FUBAR.

nosoeawe's picture

I might not have me a job, but i got an Obama Phone, oh how i love me my Obama Phone. Comes in handy when dialing 911 because facebook crashed



Yellen the demonic overated cunt

candyman's picture

Obummer and this administration has slowly turned me into a cynic. I don't believe anything anymore. sad.

Winston Churchill's picture

Being lied to constantly does that to you.

lordylord's picture

"Being lied to constantly does that to you."

The lying is so bad and obvious that it counts towards government transparency.  I guess Obummer made good on that promise.

keninla's picture

well the lying is very transparent


Oldwood's picture

There is little pleasure in oppressing others if they don't realize they are being oppressed. The lying is transparent and deliberate...in your face. This is what tells me we are nearing the end game. They don't care if we know they are lying to us, and the simple fact that we know, yet they stay in power, continuing onward with their agenda, is all the reward they could want.

i_call_you_my_base's picture

You must have only been paying attention since 2008.

SheepDog-One's picture

If Prezdent Zero like his lies, he can keep his lies and shove em right up his Kenyan cornhole!

nosoeawe's picture

"cornhole" is highly derrogatory and a racist term for maize. jerry moon beam brown and the liberal establishment would appreciate it you can keep these types of words to yourself. and try to make any term gender neutral. california thanks you for your consideration.

Wait What's picture

because starting your own engineering/architectural/agricultural firm is impossible when .gov is giving all their trillions in govt contracts to the old and well connected firms that pay for elections.

as long as .gov continues to grow, so will the leeches that symbiotically attach themselves to it.

yogibear's picture

The rest been outsourced to overseas firms.

One huge elitist friken club, and your not invited.