Labor Market Surveys Diverge
By Arnold Kling
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses two different surveys to measure job growth. The latest report shows that for the last two months, the household survey shows an increase of just over one million jobs. The payroll survey shows an increase of just under 200,000 jobs.
If you believe the household survey, then the party is getting going and the Fed needs to think about taking away the punch bowl. If you believe the payroll survey, then the recovery is still anemic.
As of a few weeks ago, economists at the Fed were not worried about the discrepancy between the two surveys, because they both showed a labor market with essentially zero job growth–one survey showing slight gains and the other showing slight declines. My guess is that the current discrepancy is too wide to brush off, and now the economists are under pressure to get the real story.
UPDATE: for more background, see this report from Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, done in October.
For Discussion. What other data can be used to assess the state of the economy?