Feds look at adjusting process for measuring jobs numbers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Feds look at adjusting process for measuring monthly jobs numbers

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The debate over Wisconsin's jobs numbers has entered a new stage.

The acting commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has sent a letter to Wisconsin workforce officials, saying the BLS is looking at adjusting the way it measures monthly jobs data.

During the recall race, Gov. Scott Walker disputed jobs estimates from the BLS that showed Wisconsin lost 34,000 jobs from December 2010 through December 2011. Walker said the figure was inaccurate because it was compiled through monthly surveys of only a tiny fraction of Wisconsin businesses.

The state later released revised numbers showing Wisconsin actually added more than 23,000 jobs during that time. The BLS later confirmed that number, which was set to be included in quarterly data widely regarded as more accurate.

Each year the BLS uses the quarterly data to revise its monthly estimates. However, Wisconsin leaders have raised concerns that the BLS recently hasn't included enough data from throughout the year for its revisions.

Now, after asking the feds to adjust the way they measure monthly jobs numbers, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reginald Newson has received a letter from the BLS acting commissioner, John Galvin. In the letter, Galvin said the agency is studying how to include more data in its updated monthly estimates, and that the BLS will "probably" be able to do that for the next scheduled revisions in March 2013.  

In the letter, Galvin said a final decision on this matter should come in the next few weeks.

Gov. Walker, in a statement, said he hopes this will "help monthly job statistics become more accurate for our entire nation." Still, he said he'll track Wisconsin's job situation by the quarterly figures—not the monthly estimates—since they are based on a much larger number of employers.

BLS spokesman Gary Steinberg told Newsline 9 the quarterly figures are a "hard count" of employment but come nine months behind the monthly estimates, which are designed as a "quick capture" of the U.S. employment picture.

To read the letter from the BLS, click here: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2012/120726_bls.pdf

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