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Economy and Business

Jobs stats are a work in progress in Ohio
The Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank says they look at past data to predict what’s happening now

Mark Urycki
In The Region:
In times of economic distress we focus on the unemployment rate and the number of people working. But some economists at the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland are pointing out that those figures can be inaccurate.  They suggest a different approach.
Stats vs stats

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In September the number of people working in the Cleveland area dropped by 7200 while jobs in Pittsburgh increased by 20,000 compared to September of 2012. That is until the Bureau of Labor Statistics –or BLS- revised those numbers a couple weeks ago.  Turns out, Pittsburgh jobs increased by only 2,000 and Cleveland workers did not decline but increased by 7,000. Turns out the government uses a little data and lot of prediction on these initial figures. Economist Joel Elvery of the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank says they look at past data to predict what’s happening now.

“The BLS model past growth trends and so they’re incorporating that period where our employment growth was well below that of the nation and right now it’s a little below but not as far as it was in the recovery from the last recession.”

But months later the government uses hard statistics from employers for a more accurate figure. Of course if you’re holding, say, a congressional election before those new figures come out, voters may throw out incumbents based on a false impression of what’s going in the economy. Elvery’s advice for the press is to wait.

“There’s a less accurate early source and a more accurate later source. You have some power to choose which of those you’re going to report.”

To make matters worse, recent reports say the Bureau of Labor Statistics is facing budget cuts and will have to have even less data to work with in the future.


Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland :  Initial and Revised Estimates of Jobs in Fourth District Metro Areas

Metro areas Jobs in September 2013 Year-over-year change in jobs Year-over-year percent change
Initial Revised Initial Revised Initial Revised
Columbus 967,200 988,800 12,900 25,600 1.3 2.6
Lexington 266,900 261,800 9,500 6,300 3.6 2.4
Wheeling 66,500 68,200 100 1,200 0.2 1.8
Cincinnati 1,015,200 1,033,500 6,700 17,800 0.7 1.7
Toledo 310,700 314,900 3,100 5,400 1.0 1.7
Lima 51,400 52,800 −400 500 −0.8 0.9
Akron 330,800 328,100 3,000 2,900 0.9 0.9
Cleveland 1,013,800 1,030,800 −7,200 7,400 −0.7 0.7
Pittsburgh 1,181,100 1,162,400 20,000 2,400 1.7 0.2
Dayton 378,900 378,700 600 0 0.2 0.0
Youngstown 227,300 227,300 1,400 0 0.6 0.0
Erie 132,700 130,400 1,200 −400 0.9 −0.3

Note: See this spreadsheet for all metro areas in the US.

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