The government's employment report is filled with a zillion numbers that measure the jobs picture in all sorts of ways. One of the more obscure indicators - and one that they don't advertise much - is something called Adjusted Household Survey Employment. It shows, reports the WSJ's Conor Dougherty, that 498,000 jobs were created last month - not the 120,000 jobs that are making the headlines. What's more, it has the economy adding 2.5 million jobs over the past year, compared with the official 1.6 million figure. This number is gleaned from the monthly household survey in which people are asked whether they have jobs or are looking.
While the stat is obscure and volatile, it isn't the only thing saying the job market is better than it seems. Revisions released today show the economy added 72,000 more jobs in September and October than was originally reported. And the temporary help services sector, seen as a leading indicator of permanent job growth, showed strong growth over the month. Of course, the establishment survey used to create the official 120,000 jobs figure is preferred by economists because the sample size is much larger, but because it can't easily track new firms starting up it can sometimes undercount turning points in the labor market.
The official number is also subject to revisions - some of them significant - that can make the monthly report look a lot better, or worse, than it first appeared. September's payroll jobs number went to 210,000 from 158,000.