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The pandemic changed how we work. Is it changing how we count jobs?

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Payoll company ADP is putting its jobs report on pause for an update.

Payoll company ADP is putting its jobs report on pause for an update. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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We’re in the middle of what we often call “jobs week,” with the government’s official employment tally for June out Friday morning. And mid-week, we normally get a read on private sector employment from the payroll processing company, ADP. But the people behind that report are taking a pause, in order to re-tool their methodology.

The ADP employment report can be viewed as a preview of the government’s official jobs numbers.

“We crave leading indicators as economists,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Thing is, she said the ADP numbers often differ from the government’s official tally, sometimes by as many as hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“We tend to find that, month-to-month, it’s not a great leading indicator for us,” she said.

It’s been challenging to keep track of how the pandemic has affected the labor market, said Kate Bahn, chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Especially, she said, since the pandemic has affected certain sectors of the economy more than others.

“Statisticians, in their effort to see how a sample may reflect the broader population, have to try to adjust for those, sort of, sectoral differences in how work has changed due to the pandemic,” she said.

The ADP Research Institute said its new report will try to accommodate the changes the world of work has gone through. It’ll start coming out again later this summer.

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