BLS Revisions To The Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Report: Don't Take The Original Too Seriously

by: Doug Short

Earlier I posted an updated 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.

Here's the latest:

With Friday's release of the May jobs report for April, 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 February 2013, the most recent month for which we have three estimates.

Click to enlarge

During this timeframe there were 92 upward revisions and 63 downward revisions. The absolute mean (average) revision was 46 thousand, which breaks down as 49K for the upward adjustments and 44K for the downward adjustments. The latest third estimate is an upward revision of 96K.

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.

To reitierate what I've said before: Don't take the initial monthly employment jobs data too seriously.