The “change” in the way government statistics are kept is a troubling phenomenon — for me — that is currently occurring.
Actually, I stumbled over the “change” disclaimer while doing research for a future post.
On July 31, 2009, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released the results of the comprehensive, or benchmark, revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs). The comprehensive revision incorporated the results of the 2002 benchmark input-output (I-O) accounts as well as changes in definitions, classifications, statistical methods, source data, and presentation.
As a huge fan of Mark Twain, I couldn’t help but reflect the quote in his own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review
“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
The government website went on to say that most of the tables in this release present revised statistics beginning with 1998.
With the revision, real GDP increased 0.4 percent for 2008; in the previously published estimates, real GDP had increased 1.1 percent.
One by one the BEA announced which sectors it would revise. There it was … Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) for 2006-2008 have been revised.
Would that mean the employment numbers I’m reading in the news today have changes in definitions, classifications, statistical methods, source data, and presentation?
Here are the “revised” employment numbers for the second quarter according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline in July (-247,000).
The unemployment rate was little changed at 9.4 percent.
The U-6 unemployment rate is listed at 16.3 percent. U-6 includes total unemployed who are discouraged and have stopped looking for work and other criteria.
The average monthly job loss for May through July (-331,000) was about half the average decline for November through April (-645,000).
There were 14.5 million unemployed persons in July.
The number of long-term unemployed continued to rise. In July, 5.0 million people had been unemployed for more than 6 months, accounting for 1 in 3 unemployed persons.
Among the employed, there were 8.8 million persons working part time in July who would have preferred full-time work.
The unemployment numbers by month: (current unemployment rates may be seen here)
|Current Unemployment Rates for States and Historical Highs/Lows
|June 2009p||Historical High||Historical Low|
|Alabama||10.1||Dec. 1982||14.4||Feb. 2007||3.3|
|Alaska||8.4||July 1986||11.5||Sept. 1999||5.9|
|Arizona||8.7||Feb. 1983||11.5||June 2007||3.6|
|Arkansas||7.2||Mar. 1983||10.2||Sept. 2000||4.1|
|California||11.6||June 2009||11.6||Feb. 2001||4.7|
|Colorado||7.6||Nov. 1982||9.1||Jan. 2001||2.5|
|Connecticut||8.0||Jan. 1976||10.0||Nov. 2000||2.1|
|Delaware||8.4||June 2009||8.4||Oct. 1988||2.9|
|District of Columbia||10.9||Mar. 1983||11.4||Dec. 1988||4.8|
|Florida||10.6||June 2009||10.6||July 2006||3.3|
|Georgia||10.1||June 2009||10.1||Dec. 2000||3.4|
|Hawaii||7.4||Mar. 1976||10.2||Dec. 2006||2.2|
|Idaho||8.4||Feb. 1983||9.4||May 2007||2.8|
|Illinois||10.3||Feb. 1983||12.9||Mar. 1999||4.1|
|Indiana||10.7||Nov. 1982||12.8||Apr. 1999||2.6|
|Iowa||6.2||May 1983||8.5||Jan. 2000||2.6|
|Kansas||7.0||Sept. 1982||7.4||Oct. 1978||2.9|
|Kentucky||10.9||Dec. 1982||12.1||Mar. 2000||4.0|
|Louisiana||6.8||Sept. 1986||12.9||July 2006||3.2|
|Maine||8.5||Mar. 1977||9.0||Jan. 2001||3.0|
|Maryland||7.3||Aug. 1982||8.3||Mar. 2000||3.3|
|Massachusetts||8.6||Jan. 1976||10.9||Dec. 2000||2.7|
|Michigan||15.2||Nov. 1982||16.9||Mar. 2000||3.2|
|Minnesota||8.4||Nov. 1982||9.0||Apr. 1999||2.5|
|Mississippi||9.0||May 1983||13.7||Jan. 2001||4.9|
|Missouri||9.3||Apr. 1983||10.5||Jan. 2000||2.6|
|Montana||6.4||May 1983||8.7||Mar. 2007||3.2|
|Nebraska||5.0||Feb. 1983||6.8||Feb. 1998||2.2|
|Nevada||12.0||June 2009||12.0||Mar. 2006||4.2|
|New Hampshire||6.8||June 1992||7.7||Apr. 1987||1.9|
|New Jersey||9.2||Feb. 1977||10.6||June 2000||3.5|
|New Mexico||6.8||Apr. 1983||9.9||Oct. 2007||3.5|
|New York||8.7||July 1976||10.5||Apr. 1988||4.0|
|North Carolina||11.0||May 2009||11.1||Apr. 1999||3.1|
|North Dakota||4.2||Mar. 1983||6.9||Jan. 1998||2.5|
|Ohio||11.1||Jan. 1983||13.8||Mar. 2001||3.9|
|Oklahoma||6.3||Aug. 1986||9.4||Jan. 2001||2.7|
|Oregon||12.2||June 2009||12.2||Apr. 1995||4.7|
|Pennsylvania||8.3||Mar. 1983||12.9||Mar. 2000||4.0|
|Rhode Island||12.4||June 2009||12.4||July 1988||2.9|
|South Carolina||12.1||June 2009||12.1||Mar. 1998||3.1|
|South Dakota||5.1||Oct. 1982||5.9||Mar. 2000||2.4|
|Tennessee||10.8||Dec. 1982||12.4||Mar. 2000||3.8|
|Texas||7.5||Oct. 1986||9.3||July 2007||4.3|
|Utah||5.7||Mar. 1983||9.7||Mar. 2007||2.4|
|Vermont||7.1||June 1976||9.0||Mar. 2000||2.2|
|Virginia||7.2||Jan. 1983||7.8||Jan. 2001||2.2|
|Washington||9.3||Nov. 1982||12.2||Apr. 2007||4.4|
|West Virginia||9.2||Mar. 1983||18.2||Jan. 2008||4.1|
|Wisconsin||9.0||Jan. 1983||11.8||Apr. 1999||2.9|
|Wyoming||5.9||May 1983||10.1||Feb. 1979||1.9|
|Note: Data series begin in January 1976.|
p = preliminary.