From Veneroso Associates’ US Economy October Employment Report, ” Huge Discrepancy Between the Payroll and Household Surveys:
1. According to BLS, payrolls fell at a 188,000 a month rate over the last three months. But their own household survey says employment fell at a 589,000 a month rate.
2. Why the discrepancy?
3. Chris Manning of the BLS told us last month that payrolls were overestimated in the twelve months ending March by 824,000. The source of this error was the birth/death model. BLS used “plug” numbers for the number of births and deaths. These “plug” numbers were wrong. They led to estimated positive contributions to employment that were too high. Most of the error (675,000 out of a total 824,000 jobs) occurred in the first quarter of this year. The birth/death model was adding significantly to payrolls when all other payrolls were falling. In reality the contribution from net births and deaths was in fact negative.
4. Manning told us that the faulty birth/death model was still being used for the months after March of this year. The implication was that the faulty birth/death model would continue to overstate payrolls and understate the payroll job losses in the months since March.
5. And, in fact, the BLS is doing just that. For the last three months they are assuming net birth/deaths have added 18,000 jobs a week. Last year over the same period they assumed it added 17,000 a week, the year before 18,000 a week, and the year before smack in the middle of the economic boom 18,000 a week.
6. It is obvious what BLS is doing. They are simply plugging in an extrapolated figure with zero adjustment for the most severe labor market contraction in three generations. And, worse yet, they know the birth/death number they are using is pure baloney.
8. Therefore, reality probably lies somewhere between the payroll survey monthly rate of job loss of 188,000 and the noisy household survey rate of job loss of almost 589,000. A best guess would be that jobs continue to be lost at a rate of 300,000 a month or more.
Payrolls were down 190,000. A slightly larger decline than the consensus. But prior payrolls were revised to show a lesser decline in August and September combined of 91,000. Payrolls with revisions declined only 99,000.
From a payroll survey perspective employment conditions are improving significantly. Not so from a household survey perspective.
The unemployment rate rose by .4%. I expected a rise, but only because I expected the sharp drop in the labor force in recent months to be partly reversed. In fact the labor force fell further by 31,000. The increase in the unemployment rate came entirely from another huge decline in the household measure of employment of 589,000. This followed declines of 785,000 in September and 292,000 in August. That is an average monthly rate of decline in employment of 589,000. That is as bad as it has been for the entire recession adjusted for population discontinuities.
The household survey of employment is a very noisy series. I was absolutely certain that, after the huge declines of August and September, we would see a much lesser decline in household survey employment in October. I thought that a decline of 200,000-300,000 would still signal serious employment weakness because of the huge declines in the prior two months.
No matter how noisy we think the household survey is, we have to take these household survey employment declines seriously. The three month decline may not be close to 1.8 million; it may be half that. It does not matter. A 300,000 a month rate of employment decline is very serious.
How can there be such a huge divergence between the household survey which now shows almost 600,000 job losses a month and the payroll survey which now shows average job losses of under 200,000 a month? Part of it, of course, is data noise. But part of it must be a continued overestimation of net positive job creation arising from the notorious birth/death model….
Therefore, reality probably lies somewhere between the payroll survey monthly rate of job loss of 188,000 and the noisy household survey rate of job loss of almost 589,000. A best guess would be that jobs continue to be lost at a rate of 300,000 a month or more.
Is this consistent with anything else? Yes. Though the manufacturing ISM showed a huge increased in its employment index, the non-manufacturing ISM showed a significant decrease to a low level. The vast majority of employment is in the non-manufacturing sector.
Also, if the rate of job loss was seriously contracting the work week should be rising. A move to a longer work week is often the first move by employers when labor conditions start to improve. The payroll survey shows a decline in the work week over the last three months and no improvement in the last month.
The latest initial and continuing claims suggest that there is some recent abatement in job losses. But they have probably continued at a significant rate and income destruction probably continues at a rapid pace….
As for the markets, they are so clueless at reading the fundamentals I have no idea how they will react to this data.