“The United States publishes two employment numbers: one based on a survey of employers (“the payroll survey”) and one based on a survey of households” Stefan Karlsson in US unemployment is worse than the headlines say on CSMonitor.com , adding: “The household survey gets more ink, but its proven itself unreliable.”
“As I’ve discussed repeatedly, unlike most other countries, the United States publishes two employment numbers: one based on a survey of employers (“the payroll survey”) and one based on a survey of households. Since they in principle describe the same real world phenomenon, the number of people employed in the U.S., they should have the same result. As it happens, they usually don’t meaning that at least one of them must be wrong.
“Because the payroll survey result is less volatile on a monthly basis, economists usually consider it more reliable. I basically agree with that, with the reservation that if the household survey systematically (not necessarily all individual months, but on average) diverge in one direction then this is a hint that the payroll survey number likely underestimates or overestimates (depending on which direction the divergence is) employment growth.
“And lately, we have seen that the household survey has in fact been systematically weaker.”…