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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fact Checking the Fact Checkers on Jobs

Factcheck.org seems to be really stretching in an attempt to be "even" in terms of lies and half-truths from last night's debates.  

However, I couldn't tell after reading the Factcheck account whether or not they agreed that there are now five million more private sector jobs or not.  So here are the comments from Factcheck, and my replies to those comments:   

From Factcheck.org after last night's debates--  Factcheck in blue and my comments in black:
5 million jobs?
Obama claimed that “over the last 30 months, we’ve seen 5 million jobs in the private sector created.”
The current BLS numbers are based on monthly surveys of businesses and government entities and count how many workers are on the payroll. Those figures show that the number of private-sector jobs grew by 4.63 million between February 2010 and August of this year.
If you look at the current numbers on the BLS databases, it is true that right now they only reflect 4.6 million new private sector jobs and not 5.1 million private sector jobs.
But BLS often revises those figures. Each year, the agency looks over companies’ tax records in an effort to get a more accurate number, a process that takes several months. In late September, BLS released a preliminary estimate for its revised numbers, adding 453,000 private-sector jobs to its count for the time period between April 2011 and March 2012.
The addition of the preliminary estimate brings the number of private-sectors jobs to more than 5 million.
Let's go over this again:  

  • The monthly numbers are based on a sample survey of jobs numbers from a sample survey of employers.  Numbers from these sample surveys are used for the monthly jobs reports that most are familiar with.
  • The BLS doesn't have more detailed, accurate information until several months after the end of a quarter.  At the end of every quarter, employers are required to submit unemployment tax records which include the number of employees as of that quarter.
  • Therefore, in September of any year, the BLS finally has access to "real" data from those unemployment tax records through the previous March. 
  • They count, analyze, and come up with a more accurate number than the estimates that were used up to that time.  They release a benchmark revision to the press.   
  • They do NOT add those new numbers to the CES databases and numbers until January of the following year.  
  • This doesn't mean that we don't have those extra 453,000 jobs.  Those people are working NOW and their employers are reporting them on their payrolls for the purposes of unemployment taxes.

So... if you read and carefully reread the Factcheck article, it seems to admit that we DO indeed have 5.1 million more private sector jobs than we had in February 2010 BUT the BLS has not YET included them in their official counts.  The first preliminary revision (which always takes place in September) is usually very close to the final revision in January.

Let's get this right:
 We DO have 5.1 million more private sector jobs than we had in February 2010, the "trough" of jobs.  Factcheck seems to agree.. kind of.       

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