Last month I posted a commentary on Some Stunning Demographic Trends in Employment. In a footnote I commented on the unreliability of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment data for Nonfarm Payroll Employment, which included a link to historic revisions back to 1979 on the BLS website. I subsequently posted a commentary to illustrate the changes.
With the release of Friday's jobs report, we have an additional month of data. My approach is to take the employment numbers since January 2000 and plot the change from the first to third estimate for each month through January 2013, the most recent month for which we have three estimates.
During this timeframe there were 91 upward revisions and 63 downward revisions. The absolute mean (average) revision was 46 thousand, which breaks down as 48K for the upward adjustments and 44K 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.