In its annual revision to its employment data, the Labor Department said Thursday that 386,000 more jobs were created in the year ending in March than it originally had reported. The revision is a preliminary estimate, with a final figure coming in February [...]
The new data, culled from state unemployment insurance tax records, showed the economy added 453,000 additional private sector jobs. But government jobs dropped 67,000 more than originally reported.
The result is there were 133.25 million people employed in non-farm jobs at the end of March instead of 132.86 million, or about 0.3% more than originally thought.
Here’s the BLS’ release. Because it’s based on tax records from the employers themselves, it’s seen as more reliable than the monthly payroll statistics. As the article notes, private sector job growth went up around 0.4%, while the public sector dropped 0.3%. This has been the story of the last four years, a recovery in the private sector weighted down by a depression in the public sector. If public sector jobs grew at the rate seen in the Presidencies of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, we would have somewhere around 7.0% unemployment, if not lower.
Major industries boosted by the revisions include construction (up 1.6%), mining and logging (up 1.4%) and information technology (up 1.9%).
As you can see in this historical chart provided by Calculated Risk, a 0.3% increase is within the historical range of revisions. In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, the number actually got revised downward by 0.7%. This is the biggest gain in the revisions since 2006. Last year also saw a gain, although a slighter one (162,000 jobs).
The important milestone politically is that this revision turns the Obama Presidency positive relative to net job creation. Over the President’s term starting in January 2009, the economy has created 125,000 jobs. Obviously there are caveats given the expansion of the eligible labor force in those four years, but that benchmark will probably come up in the debates.
None of this is to say that the jobs situation is markedly different with this revision upwards. The unemployment rate, based on a different survey, remains at 8.1%, and job growth over the past two quarters has not really been enough to get that rate down rapidly. With major retail store closings around the corner, we still have an economy performing below trend.
The next monthly jobs report, the second to last before the election, comes out a week from Friday.