News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Lehmans

Don Drumm Studios

Northeast Ohio Medical University


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business


A war of numbers: Greater Cleveland’s job outlook
Federal job data can paint very different pictures of the Greater Cleveland region.
Story by BRIAN BULL


 
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Followers of the monthly labor report see a region that’s been hemorrhaging jobs, while detractors see fault with just how those numbers are crunched. That split made headlines recently, as both business development group Team NEO and Cleveland State paired up to challenge the sour labor outlook. Brian Bull of OPR member station WCPN has the story.
Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:15)


It was in early January when the headlines and newscasts echoed a familiar dirge:

“The labor department says the Cleveland metro – including Mentor and Elyria…lost more jobs in November than any region in the country,” local news outlets reported.

That grim assessment stemmed from the Current Employment Statistics report, which is issued each month by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

And they particularly rankle the business development and regional marketing folks at Team NEO, a semi-private extension of Ohio’s job creation and promotion arm that serves the northeast region. 

Jacob Duritsky is its managing director of research.

“Greater Cleveland is not losing jobs," Duritsky said.

Duritsky acknowledges that Team NEO has used the monthly figures in its quarterly economic reviews. But he says after so many dour snapshots, they dug into the BLS’ methodology… and now will no LONGER use them.

“The current employment statistic surveys about 6 percent of all U.S. establishments," Duritsky said. "So a very, very small percent of businesses in the country are even surveyed.  At the national and state level, the data fairly good… but once you get down to the metro level, there are very small samples with very high error rates.” 

A leading economist at Cleveland State University is also dumping the monthly CES data. Ned Hill is Dean of CSU’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. He says the monthly BLS unemployment stats appeal to those wanting a quick and accessible number to throw into a news story or press release, and not always for the best reasons. 

“They aren’t worth commenting on because they’re statistical garbage," Hill said. "I’ve had journalists as well as political copywriters come in, and—can you imagine—seeing all these bad numbers, and how it can be used against elected officials? It’s the rush to be immediate, it’s causing us to make mistakes.”

Hill says a more accurate measure comes months later, called the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

“This isn’t a sample, this is a census that covers 98 percent of all employment in the United States," Hill said.

Both Cleveland State and Team NEO say they’ll work with the QCEW figures, even if they aren’t immediate. A review showed that a reported loss of nearly 7000 jobs between June 2012 and June 2013 actually was later adjusted to a gain of nearly 9000 jobs when the BLS’s quarterly census data was available.

This isn’t news to Joel Elvery.  He’s a researcher with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and has long championed the quarterly reports in gauging the Greater Cleveland area’s job outlook.

“And so actually the average revision’s larger than the average decline," Elvery said.  "Which suggest that if the revisions follow the same pattern they’ve been on, then after the revisions, we’ll find that we’ve had a job gain and not a job loss.”

Recently, the Plain Dealer addressed the issue in an editorial, embracing the adjusted findings that painted a rosier jobs outlook for Greater Cleveland. But the monthly CES releases have defenders, including Cleveland economic researcher George Zeller. 

“These figures are extremely reliable," Zeller said. "The fact that they are revised is not unusual, it happens every year.  It’s gonna happen again this year. It’s going to be a slight upward revision but not nearly enough of an upward revision to show that we’ve regained the jobs we previously lost.”

Zeller says outside the numbers debate, the main point he sees is that Greater Cleveland is still struggling to recover fully from two major recessions that happened in the previous decade, and its rate of recovery still trails that of the nation. 

“If the Browns are in last place, and they win a game and they’re still 10 games out, are they now in first place?" Zeller asked. "No, that’s an improvement, but we have to compare ourselves to everybody else. And I think that’s where this leap to judgment, that these numbers are no good, is ill-founded.”

Paul LaPorte of the BLS office in Chicago says the Bureau stands by the methodology of its monthly reports, but since they’re based on a sample, errors are to be expected. 

He says a new benchmark employment report for ALL of 2013 is due to be released March 17th.

Listener Comments:

The Plain Dealer Editorial Board first commented on this issue in September of last year.
http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/09/labor_department_statistics_ca.html


Posted by: Peter Krouse (Cleveland) on March 7, 2014 3:03AM
Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Stories with Recent Comments

Fancy dinners from humble beginnings at The Blue Door
Grandma of Chris Miller moved to Florida in a retirement community but I sure miss the Falls and the Blue Door, and the fine service and the true friendship of ...

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

A guide for gift-shopping for older Ohians
I'll never be to old for peanut brittle.

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Video of Cleveland police shooting a 12-year-old is critical to the investigation
While I think this is a very unfortunate, the fact is that police are trained to aim for the large mass of a human to stop them. If they aimed for the leg it w...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University