The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the Employment Situation report for January today. Annual revisions complicate the release, but the news is basically good. Payroll employment rose by 243 thousand in January, and the November and December figures were revised upward by a total of 60 thousand. The unemployment rate declined to 8.3 from 8.5 percent.
For the January estimates, annual benchmark revisions to the establishment survey incorporate unemployment insurance tax records from the prior March to improve payroll counts, and updated seasonal adjustment factors for January 2007 forward. For the household survey and the unemployment rate, January estimates include new population totals from the Census Bureau. Today’s release incorporates results from the 2010 decennial census. BLS does not revise past household survey estimates.
The revisions to payroll employment provide a slightly better history for job growth over the last two years and present an encouraging view going forward with an upward trajectory. But recent progress still has made up for only roughly 3 million of the 9 million payroll jobs lost since the peak.
The revisions are a bit of a mix for growth in payroll employment over the last year, but don’t alter the basic pattern of strengthening since last summer. Today’s January numbers add to the improvement in job growth while the unemployment rate moves slowly lower.
The unemployment rate edged down based on a large increase in the number of employed persons, 631 thousand, and in spite of an increase in the labor force of 250 thousand. This is a positive development compared to prior months when declines in the unemployment rate have been driven in part by declines in the labor force.