Economy Adds Over 900,000 Jobs Beating The Consensus By A Mile

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 916,000 in March with private payrolls up 780,000.The unemployment rate edged down to 6.0 percent.

BLS Jobs Statistics at a Glance

Details from the monthly BLS Employment Report.

  • Nonfarm Payroll: +916,000 to 144,120,000 - Establishment Survey
  • Employment: +609,000 to 150,848,000- Household Survey
  • Unemployment: -262,000 to 9,710,000- Household Survey
  • Baseline Unemployment Rate: -0.2 to 6.0% - Household Survey
  • U-6 unemployment: -0.4 to 10.7% - Household Survey
  • Civilian Non-institutional Population: +85,000 to 261,003,000
  • Civilian Labor Force: +347,000 to 160,558,000 - Household Survey
  • Not in Labor Force: -263,000 to 100,445,000 - Household Survey
  • Participation Rate: +0.1 to 61.5% - Household Survey

Initial Reaction

Both jobs and employment rose significantly.

However, the BLS reports an increase in employment of 609,000 but an increase in jobs of 916,000. 

The numbers smashed the consensus estimate of 658,000 jobs. 

BLS Error Rate

As in previous months, some workers affected by the pandemic who should have been classified as unemployed on temporary layoff were instead misclassified as employed  but not at work. However, the share of responses that may have been misclassified was highest in the early months of the pandemic and has been considerably lower in recent months.

Since March 2020, BLS has published an estimate of what the unemployment rate might have been had misclassified workers been included among the unemployed. Repeating this same approach, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March 2021 would have been 0.4 percentage point higher than reported. However, this represents the upper bound of our estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the size of the misclassification error.  

According to usual practice, the data from the household survey are accepted as recorded. To maintain data integrity, no ad hoc actions are taken to reclassify survey responses.

I strongly question the accuracy of the BLS assertion that 0.4% is the high end of their error rate.

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