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The Employment Benchmark Revision: Implications for the Economy’s Trajectory

Summary:
The January numbers are out. March 2019 levels revised down 514 thousands, vs. 501 in preliminary. December numbers revised down 422 thousands. My guess based on December estimates and the March 2019 preliminary benchmark (see this post), the actual reported numbers for December were higher by 79 thousand. Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment from December 2019 release (bold blue), from January 2020 release (bold red), August 2019 preliminary benchmark revision for March 2019 NFP (dark blue square), implied NFP using Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) (bold green), household survey adjusted to nonfarm payroll employment concept (chartreuse), Chinn estimate of BLS benchmark revision using data available in January (pink) Source: BLS via FRED, BLS and author’s calculations.

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The January numbers are out. March 2019 levels revised down 514 thousands, vs. 501 in preliminary. December numbers revised down 422 thousands. My guess based on December estimates and the March 2019 preliminary benchmark (see this post), the actual reported numbers for December were higher by 79 thousand.

Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment from December 2019 release (bold blue), from January 2020 release (bold red), August 2019 preliminary benchmark revision for March 2019 NFP (dark blue square), implied NFP using Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) (bold green), household survey adjusted to nonfarm payroll employment concept (chartreuse), Chinn estimate of BLS benchmark revision using data available in January (pink) Source: BLS via FRED, BLS and author’s calculations.

Menzie Chinn
He is Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

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