By the Numbers: Economic Data Revisions: What They Are and Where to Find Them

Katrina Stierholz


Economic data is being revised often. On the first Friday of every month,the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes its Employment Situation Summary. This report describes the state of employment in the United States and two highly anticipated (and media-watched) employment numbers: The Unemployment Rate and Total Nonfarm Payroll Employment. The Unemployment Rate is based on a survey of persons who report they are seeking work but are not employed. The Payroll Employment Data are based on firms’ reports of the number of people employed. Economists and others carefully watch the rise (or fall) of the total nonfarm payroll employment data. These data are a fundamental reflection of current economic conditions and a significant rise or fall will, in turn, influences economic decision-making by businesses and government.

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