Birth Death Adjustment Coming Under Fire

One of our favorite bugaboos is finally getting its due: The horrifically misleading Birth Death adjustment.

It is finally being recognized in the mainstream as the massive data distorter that it is. The latest BLS analysis and data revision shows that during 2008, the Birth Death adjustment caused NFP payrolls to be  significantly under reported.

NYT’s Floyd Norris:

“It now appears that during the first half of 2008, when the recession was getting under way, job losses averaged 146,000 per month. That is nearly three times the average of 49,000 jobs shown in the initial estimates.

How did the government get it so wrong?

The official job numbers are based on a monthly survey of employers, augmented by something called the “birth-death model,” which factors in jobs assumed to have been created by employers who are too new to have been included in the survey, and subtracts jobs from employers assumed to have failed and therefore not responded to the latest survey.” (emphasis added)

Triple the job losses than reported, and right at a crucial part of the economic cycle! Is it any wonder policy response from central bankers and pols was so off? At the most crucial time, they failed to see the oncoming headlights, because they were lost in a fog of data so massaged as to have it completely and totally misrepresent reality.

About time this nionsense was recognized for the bullshit it is. We need to have BLS needs to toss out the 2003 modification to the B/D. We should get back to actually counting, rather than imagining, jobs.

As noted in Bailout Nation, this fundamental reliance on garbage data led to one of the world’s greatest economic catastrophes of all time.

Reality matters.


click for larger graphic



NFP: Birth/Death Adjustments (December 6th, 2007)

Overstated Job Growth, Understated Inflation (January 4th, 2008)

The Jobs News Gets Worse
NYT, October 3, 2009

Historical Net Birth/Death Adjustments

CES Net Birth/Death Model
Current Employment Statistics – CES (National)

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