Government figures for new jobs, after upward revisions for August and September, showed the same trajectory Friday as in the past few months. So far today, no tweet about "cooked" numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers from Jack Welch. But it's early. In its much-awaited monthly report, the BLS said the economy generated 184,000 new seasonally adjusted private jobs in October. Governments at all levels lost 13,000 new jobs, for a net gain of 171,000. It was well above the consensus of analysts surveyed ahead of time. The official unemployment rose slightly to 7.9 percent.
The bureau revised its previously reported growth in payroll employment in August from 142,000 to 192,000 and in September from 114,000 to 148,000. The BLS counted 12.3 million Americans as officially unemployed. The number of Americans unemployed for six months or more rose to 5.0 million after having fallen in September to 4.8 million. The civilian labor force participation ratio rose to 63.8 percent; the employment-population ratio rose 58.8 percent.
BLS also measures the job situation with an alternative gauge (called U6) that counts part-time workers who want full-time jobs and some but not all Americans who want jobs but have stopping looking for one. That number fell to 8.3 million in October (after rising from from 8 million to 8.6 million in September). The U6 rate fell from 14.7 percent to 14.6 percent. When unemployed workers, underemployed workers and Americans who are not included in the work force but say they want a job, the total unemployed and underemployed population is 27.1 million Americans.
On Wednesday, TrimTabs Investment Research estimated that 140,000 new jobs had been created in October. The firm calculates payroll job growth based on daily tax deposits. Some analysts say TrimTabs' numbers are more accurate because it susses out many jobs from small companies that the BLS misses. TrimTabs stated on its website that the BLS missed an uptick in job growth in August and September and has now missed a downward move in October.
Automated Data Processing, one of the nation's largest payroll services companies, reported Thursday that, by its calculations, the economy generated 158,000 new private-sector jobs in October. ADP's and BLS numbers have rarely been close to each other in the past, and the company changed its methodology this month in order to more closely reflect the BLS numbers. It does not measure government job gains or losses.
ADP bases its report on the payrolls it processes for some 406,000 businesses covering about 23 million employees. You can read more about the latest ADP calculation in my report here.
The BLS jobs report is the product of a pair of surveys, one of more than 410,000 business establishments called Current Employment Statistics, and one called the Current Population Survey, which questions 60,000 householders. The establishment survey determines how many new jobs were added, always calculated on a seasonally adjusted basis. The CPS provides data that determine the official "headline" unemployment rate, also known as "U3." That's the number which is now 7.9 percent.
It should always be remembered that the BLS report offers only a fuzzy snapshot of the job market at a single point in time. Those job-created-last-month-numbers it reports are not "real," and not as hard and fast as the traditional media and some politicians would have everyone believe. Not because of a conspiracy orchestrated by the White House or one of its puppets as Sean Hannity or Jack Welch would have it. Rather because BLS statisticians apply seasonal adjustments to the raw data, and a filter estimating the number of jobs created by the "birth" and "death" of businesses, among other tweaks.
Moreover, the "confidence margin" is important: the BLS believes the actual amount of jobs it reports is plus or minus 100,000. That is, the actual number of jobs gained (or lost) in October could have been as low as 71,000 or as high as 271,000. Which is why there are revisions announced every month for the two previous months and additional revisions announced each February. That doesn't mean the BLS folks are sloppy at their jobs or have bad methodology but rather because measuring the number of jobs created is part science, part art.
Here's what the job growth numbers have looked like for October in the most recent 10 years:
October 2003: + 197,000
October 2004: + 348,000
October 2005: + 80,000
October 2006: - 9,000
October 2007: + 79,000
October 2008: - 489,000
October 2009: - 202,000
October 2010: + 220,000
October 2011: + 112,000
October 2012: + 171,000
Among other changes in today's job report:
• Health care: +31,000
• Professional and business services: +51,000
• Retail trade: +36,000
• Transportion and warehousing:
• Manufacturing : +13,000
• Construction: +17,000
• The average workweek (for production and non-supervisory workers) held at to 34.4 hours for the fourth month in a row.
• Average manufacturing hours fell to 40.5.
• The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls fell by 1 cent to $23.58.