Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bad Weather Employment Numbers

The most recent employment report from the BLS for February came out on Friday. There has been some concerns that it was worse than expected because of the bad weather during the month. One of those concerned about the effect on the numbers was Larry Summers, the President's Economic Advisor.

"In past blizzards, [employment] statistics have been distorted by 100,000 to 200,000 jobs," Mr. Summers said on financial news network CNBC. "So it's going to be very important to ... look past whatever the next figures are to gauge the underlying trends. I think those underlying trends are going to show job growth soon ... several thousand new projects are coming onstream: building roads, repairing bridges and the like across the country."

While there may be a blip in the data, it is important to note that just because you missed work due to the bad weather, you are not counted as unemployed. From the BLS Q&A:

Persons also are counted as employed if they have a job at which they did not work during the survey week, whether they were paid or not, because they were:

* On vacation
* Ill
* Experiencing child-care problems
* Taking care of some other family or personal obligation
* On maternity or paternity leave
* Involved in an industrial dispute
* Prevented from working by bad weather

These persons are counted among the employed and tabulated separately as "with a job but not at work," because they have a specific job to which they will return.

In case you were wondering, the survey week is the week that includes the 12th of the month.

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