DWD: Secretary Newson urges federal officials to correct misleading data series
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Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2011 job data estimates were off actual job counts by more than 50,511
MADISON –Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson today urged the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to reconsider its way of estimating monthly job totals, citing estimates that inaccurately portrayed Wisconsin’s 2011 performance in job creation.
“As agencies charged with providing timely and relevant labor market information, we have a responsibility to ensure the labor market information we publish is accurate, complete and reflective of what occurs on the ground,” Secretary Newson wrote to John Galvin of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Three different U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data series provide labor market information:
* Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW): compiled from Unemployment Insurance records from some 160,000 (almost 96%) of Wisconsin business establishments, i.e., actual jobs data.
* Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS): compiled from a monthly survey of 1,450 households.
* Current Employment Statistics (CES): compiled from a monthly survey sent to about 5,500 employers (3.5% of Wisconsin employers).
The CES series is based on a small survey and is annually “benchmarked,” or updated based on more complete information. Secretary Newson noted that, historically, these three BLS series tracked with relative consistency. However, the CES became inconsistent with the other series, in addition to economic data, since June 2011. The CES estimated the state of Wisconsin lost 22,700 private sector jobs in Wisconsin from December 2010 through December 2011, when in fact the QCEW – used as the gold standard for jobs data - indicated a net gain of 27,811 private sector jobs over the same time frame, a difference of more than 50,511.
Secretary Newson asked the BLS to reconsider changes it used in the most recent annual benchmarking process, and to revert to the previous method that had yielded more consistent estimates.
“We strongly believe the integrity of the CES data series would be dramatically improved if the BLS were to use three quarters of data for its next annual benchmarking process,” Secretary Newson continued. “Based on feedback from other states, we are not alone in this belief.”