Today’s jobs report is full of good news relative to the past three years of diminished expectations. In the establishment survey, the economy added 171,000 jobs in October and more importantly revisions to the September and August data gave us another 84,000 jobs.
The revisions are always really really important here. The initial read on August was dismal, but now that it’s been revised twice it looks great at 192,000 extra jobs. Initial estimates of the employment level come with a 95 percent confidence interval of plus or minus 100,000 jobs which means that the initial estimate of the change in the employment level is incredibly fuzzy. Everyone would like a fantastic real time indicator of the labor market, but the BLS can’t really give it to us. What we really know for sure today is that August saw huge employment growth. There are hints of more good news from September and October but it’s hard to be sure.
On the household survey, the unemployment rate inched up ever so slightly while the employment:population ratio also rose. In other words, the household survey shows some people re-joining the labor force in the context of growing employment.