Understanding The Jobless Rate

Posted: October 6, 2008 in Economy

Why the Jobless Rate Held When We Lost Jobs?

Mark Lieberman, Senior Economist

Even as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday the economy shed 159,000 jobs — the largest monthly payroll decline since March 2003 — the unemployment rate held steady at 6.1%.

The seeming inconsistency — a loss of jobs but no increase in the unemployment rate — flows from the fact the BLS on the first Friday of each month reports the results of two separate surveys, one measuring jobs and the other measuring the number of people working.

The jobs tally comes from the Current Employment Statistics or “establishment survey” which is a monthly sample of 400,000 businesses. The unemployment rate comes from the Current Population Survey or “household survey” which samples 60,000 households. (more…)


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