Posted by: Josh Lehner | February 24, 2012

Employment Revisions, A Preview

  • Tues, Feb 28 annual employment revisions released
  • Typical revisions are up or down a few thousand
  • Expectations are for a downward revision to 2011 employment estimates
  • While this can generate scary headlines, it is part of the normal process and Oregon’s recovery path remains essentially the same, just slightly lower than first estimated

On Tuesday, February 28th the Oregon Employment Department will release employment figures for January but also revisions to the prior year’s data. Typically the revisions cover the October through September time period (with some historical revisions as well), however due to a BLS policy change the revisions this year will only cover the October 2010 through June 2011 period. As the Employment Department said last year:

… [O]riginal survey-based estimates were replaced with universe employment counts from the Unemployment Insurance tax system. Numbers … were then re-estimated using sample employment data from a survey of businesses.

…During the prior 18 years, comparable revisions ranged from -1.3 percent in the 2009 revision to +1.2 percent in the 1993 revision, with nearly half of the last 18 years coming in within plus or minus 0.2 percent.

Revisions are typically fairly small – a few thousand up or down – and this year is no real exception, based on unofficial preliminary estimates. Please note that what follows are my calculations only and are not official in any form, however these figures are expected to be very close to the official data released next week.

Download the full set of slides including more details and information.

The graph below illustrates the preliminary benchmark for both Total Nonfarm Employment and the Private Sector. The black line represents when last year’s benchmark/revision stopped – that is, data to the right of the line is not benchmarked.

What the revisions show is that employment in 2010q4 was stronger than first estimated and employment in the first half of 2011 is lower than first estimated. In particular, if you recall, January and February 2011 estimates indicated very strong gains, in fact February’s gain was the 3rd largest monthly gain in the state since 1990. What the benchmark tells us is that these gains were actually slightly smaller than originally estimated. The state still gained significant employment in early 2011, just not quite as much as first estimated. Unfortunately the slowdown in employment growth the state experienced over the middle portion of 2011 appears to be accurate and confirmed by this prelim benchmark process. While the private sector continued to add jobs throughout 2011, these gains where just enough to offset the public sector losses, resulting in flat employment.


Download the full set of slides including more details and information.


  1. […] do we know the CES will be revised upward? Using a preliminary benchmarking procedure, discussed here previously, reveals that in December 2011, Oregon’s employment is actually about 10,000 higher than the […]

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