Over recent months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has revised upward its initial estimates of the monthly change in nonfarm payroll employment. Similar positive revisions occurred to the initial estimates for September 2010 through February 2011. Moreover, upward revisions to initial estimates also occurred in the immediate months following the most recent NBER business-cycle trough of June 2009. This pattern of positive revisions suggests that the BLS might be having trouble pinning down initial estimates of job gains in the early stages of an expansion. It also cautions us against placing too much weight on very early, sometimes unreliable estimates of macroeconomic data.
Revisions to Nonfarm Payroll Employment: 1964 to 2011
Using the Philadelphia Fed’s real-time data set for macroeconomists, this report analyzes revisions to initial estimates for nonfarm payroll employment over the period November 1964 to September 2011.