The Big Story Blog

Losing trust in monthly employment data?

Posted at 12:55 PM on December 15, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Jobs and unemployment

The confusing picture painted today by Minnesota's November jobs and jobless data is leading some experts to question the reliability of the numbers.

MPR News reporter Annie Baxter writes:

Minnesota's employment picture came out fuzzy again in November, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.9 percent, even as employers slashed nearly 14,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households. A seperate survey of employers produces the number of jobs. November marked the third month in a row that the two surveys have pointed in opposite directions.

The state's head labor market analyst, Steve Hine, lays much of the blame for the conflicting reports at the feet of federal economic officials. Hine says they are ignoring local factors that affect the results and he's now worried about the credibility of the data.

"My sense in looking at our own numbers and in talking to a lot of other states across the nation, we do face a threat to the quality of this information," Hine said. "It's very disappointing."

Hine's conducting an annual check on the accuracy of employment numbers. He says preliminary results suggest the official numbers understate Minnesota's job growth earlier this year.

A spokeswoman from the Bureau of Labor Statistics could not provide an immediate comment about Hine's criticisms of the agency's computations.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.