The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts together the monthly jobs report from two separate surveys that track the job market differently. The Establishment or Payroll Survey counts jobs and wages as reported by 147,000 sample employers. The Household Survey counts people who are employed, unemployed or not in the labor force as reported in phone questionnaires conducted with 60,000 American households. In the September 2017 report, the two surveys came to dramatically different conclusions, with the number of jobs declining by 33,000 in the Payroll Survey, while the number of jobs rose 906,000 in the Household Survey, driving the unemployment rate down to 4.2 percent. That may reflect the fact that someone who had a job in Florida or Texas but couldn’t get to work because of hurricane disruptions could have been counted as employed in the Household Survey; but if they didn’t receive a paycheck for the sample week because they couldn’t get to work, their employer would not have counted that job in the payroll report.
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