Yesterday The New York Post posted an article about the Labor Department‘s December jobs report. I am probably not the only one who wondered why the jobs added number was lower than expected (I see signs of economic recovery all around me–new shops, new construction, formerly unemployed people going back to work, people getting bonuses, etc.). Well, it seems that there was more to the numbers than I thought.
The article reports:
But the number was kept artificially low by a seasonal adjustment that wasn’t comparable to the one done a year earlier, in December 2016.
And it’s unusual for one December’s adjustment to be so different from the previous December.
If the adjustments had been consistent, last Friday’s number would have shown growth of another 133,000. Add the growth that was announced (148,000 jobs) and the seasonal adjustment difference (133,000) and this December’s growth would have been a very, very healthy 281,000 jobs.
How to lie with statistics.
It gets worse:
There was another adjustment that made Friday’s job number look worse than it would have been.
In the December figure released last Friday, the government deducted 38,000 jobs that it thinks were lost but can’t prove were lost because they happened inside very small companies.
A year earlier, in December 2016, only 17,000 jobs were deducted for this reason.
Again, if Labor has simply remained consistent, December’s jobs gains could have been as high as 300,000.
As I’ve explained many times before, the government’s economic statistics are not expected to be completely accurate the first time they are announced — even though Wall Street and the media treat them like they are.
That’s why the government does numerous revisions.
I guess the only numbers we can actually believe are the ones in the final revision!