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Reading the “Real” Monthly Jobs Reports


Market watchers, investment managers, financial advisors and investors everywhere constantly seek new, current, and comprehensive information. In our 24/7/365 news cycle, data is everywhere, but we are left to ourselves to find raw data, and then to interpret that information to guide policy.

Jobs reports are released during the first week of each new month. The first report is an analysis of changes in private sector payrolls, as compiled by ADP, the large payroll processing company. ADP reports are produced from ADP’s internal numbers of actual payroll employees, and tend to be very timely. They are released on the first Wednesday every month, and precede the government reports, which come out on Friday. In the Financial Media, ADP reports are generally ignored.

On the first Friday of the new month, the U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases their reports, starting with a “Headline Number,” which is what the media touts as “The Jobs Report.” That, of course, is nonsense, as many reports must be taken together in order to get a clear picture (one worthy of affecting policy). 

Here are the steps to a more thorough analysis:

  • ADP (payroll processors) releases their monthly private sector jobs changes at www.adpemploymentreport.com
  • BLS releases their “Establishment Survey” at www.bls.gov, detailing job additions or losses among large employers
  • Each monthly BLS report also details revisions to their prior 2 months of reports
  • BLS also releases their “Household Survey,” which is developed from actual household sampling
  • The Household Survey varies from the Establishment Survey, as it is picks up people who are self-employed
  • Finally, BLS also publishes the “CES Birth/Death Adjustment” at www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cesbd.htm, estimating jobs created or destroyed through business startups and closings

Individually, these reports provide bits of data. Together, they form a picture of the overall jobs market in the country. Individual statistics cannot provide a comprehensive picture of the national economy, but jobs and unemployment are among the most meaningful indicators. Our economy is 70% consumer-driven, and a growing job market translates into creation of new consumers.

Rather than accepting “Headline Numbers” and their chosen adjectives, learn to do a little more research, or listen to our monthly analysis on the Van Wie Financial Hour.

Van Wie financial is fee-only. For a reason.