If it’s the first Friday of the month, there must be a jobs report, right? Wrong.
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The closely watched jobs report is typically released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the first Friday of the month, the exception being when it isn’t. Like today.
So what is the explanation for this econometric temporal anomaly?
“It’s a common misconception that the Employment Situation is released on the first Friday of the month,” said Katelynn Harris, economist with the BLS, referring to the jobs report by its formal title.
There is a reason for this misconception, said Betsey Stevenson, former chief economist at the Labor Department.
“This is one of those things where we all have rules of thumb, because they’re just easier to remember,” Stevenson said. “So the first Friday of the month is way easier to remember than the actual rule.”
And that rule is that the report release “is scheduled for the third Friday after the conclusion of the survey reference week,” Harris of the BLS said.
That is the period when BLS statisticians are out in the field surveying Americans about their jobs, hours and wages — gathering the data they crunch for the monthly jobs report.
The “reference week” always includes the 12th of the month. With a slight pause for some mental math, Harris said, “For February, that was Sunday the 12th to Saturday the 18th. So three Fridays after that would be the 10th. Which is why we’re releasing next week and not today.”
Does it really matter that by following its rules, this month, BLS is releasing the all-important, closely-watched jobs report a week later than most everyone expects?
“In the grand scheme of things, [it’s] no big deal,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “I mean, it’s a few days later than we typically would get it. In fact … it’s one data report after the next that’s been surprising and confusing. Maybe we’ll get a couple days extra rest here. it might not be such a bad thing.”
So, people should rest up — there’s another week until what could be another surprising, confusing jobs report.
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