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It doesn't usually make much of a splash when the Bureau of Labor Statistics does a benchmark revision on payroll data. But when that revision, adding 386,000 jobs to the previous, less reliable estimate, suddenly means that there's been positive net job creation under President Barack Obama and that Mitt Romney no longer has one of his big attacks on the president, the words "the Bureau of Labor Statistics did a benchmark revision on payroll data" become a lot more politically sexy.
According to the revision, total non-farm payrolls stood at 133.686 million jobs in August, up from 133.561 million in January 2009, when Obama's first term began. Before the revision, payrolls were at 133.300 million in August.
In other words, 125,000 jobs have been created, in total, during Obama's first term, compared with a prior estimate of a loss of 261,000.
Because Romney has relied so heavily on attacking Obama for having presided over net job loss, don't be surprised if Republicans start denouncing this revision as somehow political. But in fact, these revisions are routine and this one is, at 0.3 percent, well within the normal range. It's a small adjustment. It's only making news because it tips Obama from a little bit on the negative side to a little bit on the positive side, and Romney's campaign is on such shaky footing that this small shift will be a big political blow.
The really sad thing is we could have gotten to this point long ago if so many public sector jobs hadn't been cut.