TrimTab: BLS March Jobs Underestimated

April 6, 2004 ( - The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said there were 308,000 non-farm jobs added in March, but one research firm says the real picture is much brighter.

Applying a year-over-year methodology, TrimTab says non-farm employment actually increased by 519,000 employees, representing an improvement of 211,000 jobs from BLS data (See  Job Market Roars to LIfe in March ).

To arrive at this figure, TrimTabs says it examined the past thirty-five years of employment data and found seasonal variations in employment are highly predictable.   Applying a quantitative analysis based on these observations, TrimTabs contends the seasonal adjustments and benchmark revisions to BLS data appear to understate employment improvements during business cycle expansions by 30% to 40%.   Thus, TrimTabs says versus BLS data, its proprietary figure is more consistent with improvements in other employment, wage and salary indicators.

“Employment posted healthy gains for the second straight month, but even more encouraging, the March improvement was broadly based rather than heavily concentrated in the service sector,” said Madeline Schnapp, Editor of TrimTabs U.S. Employment Update.

Overall, TrimTabs data shows employment in both the goods-producing sector and service-producing sector rose strongly, with the greatest employment gains coming in:

  • raw materials sectors
  • construction
  • retail trade
  • air transportation
  • credit services
  • accounting and architectural services
  • health services
  • food services.

Reviewing the year-to-date, TrimTabs says employment was flat in January, improved in February, and surged in March.   This culminated in measured employment gains of 928,000 employees since December 2003.