What does it mean when the jobs number doesn’t meet expectations?
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You may have heard today that the August headline jobs number “was below expectations,” or about 24,000 fewer jobs were created than the consensus among leading economists predicted. But how significant is that figure? The first release of the monthly job-creation number is an estimate accurate to plus or minus 119,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So economists say differences of about 10,000 or 20,000 below or above expectations are statistically small. The initial monthly jobs report is revised in subsequent months, and since 2000, August jobs figures in particular have tended to be difficult to accurately pin down on the first try.
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