BLS Preliminary Benchmark Revision to NFP

This year’s benchmark: Surprisingly small

Prelim rev bls nfp

From labor wonks at the Liscio Report:

This morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the preliminary benchmark revision to the non-farm payroll, through March 2014. The annual benchmark is based on the unemployment insurance system’s records, which cover close to 100% of establishment employment, and are the last word in employment. It will be made official early in 2015.

The revision, through March 2014, was an unusually small 7,000 jobs, which is less than +0.05%, far below the +/- 0.3% average of the last ten years.

As is always the case, there were larger shifts in the details. The non-newsworthy headline was a wash of an upward revision to private employment of 47,000 jobs, less than 0.05%, and a downward revision to government of 40,000 jobs, or -0.2%.

By sector, natural resources and mining came down by 1.8%, but construction moved up an encouraging 1.5%. Manufacturing was revised up by 0.4%, but trade/transport came down by 0.1%, which includes a 0.7% downward revision to wholesale trade, a sector that has looked awfully strong recently.

The big winner was the noisy information sector, up 2.4%, or 65,000 jobs. Professional/business services took a 0.8% hit, and financial activities came up 0.3%. Leisure and hospitality rose 0.2%, other services 1.1%. Education and health employment was revised down by 0.3% or 72K jobs, so there really does seem to be real weakness in that sector.

This is, of course, a disappointment for those of us who await the annual benchmark with bated breath, but it might quiet some chatter about the birth/death model, whose job is done once the benchmark is in place. It was remarkably accurate for the 12 months ended March 2014.

Philippa Dunne & Doug Henwood

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