The BLS runs two different job counts: a household survey and payrolls data. Over the long term,
the surveys diverge little, but there can be sharp divergences in the short run. The household survey
is more volatile and does not carry the documentation that the payroll data have behind it. But, the
household survey is broader and certainly more current than the payroll data as HR departments
have other pressing priorities. Most economists and investment managers follow the payroll info,
especially since it was once blessed by none other than Uncle Al Greenspan. I have long favored
the household survey because of its breadth and because it is more up to date. Well, since 10/11,
the household survey shows 2.1 mil. new jobs to only 1.3 mil. for payroll. Since the household
survey often leads payroll in timeliness, there are 800k jobs "in the can" which are not yet
reflected in the payroll data. Perhaps this discrepancy may just sit for a fair spell, and, perhaps
payroll is well understated. Since the BLS reports up through the labor secretary, a cabinet post,
and since it is a national election year, the 800K jobs discrepancy could play a role of some
sort between now and election day in early Nov. No big deal, but just something to keep in
mind, as the President may be looking for ways to put the best case he can before voters....
- Peter Richardson
- Retired chief investment officer and former NYSE firm partner with 50 plus years experience in field as analyst / economist, portfolio manager / trader, and CIO who has superb track record with multi $billion equities and fixed income portfolios. Advanced degrees, CFA. Having done much professional writing as a young guy, I now have a cryptic style. 40 years down on and around The Street confirms: CAVEAT EMPTOR IN SPADES !!!