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Jobs Report

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Jobs reports tell you whether more people are being hired.

Photo: Tim Boyle / Getty Images

What Is the Jobs Report?:

The jobs report will tell you how many jobs were added, or lost, since the previous month. The economy needs 150,000 new jobs are needed each month to keep growing. It can be confusing, because there are three U.S. jobs reports that are followed -- a monthly report produced by the U.S. Labor Department, which is preceded by the monthly ADP report, and a weekly jobless claims report. Here's what they measure, how to use them, and links to the latest reports for each.

The BLS Jobs Report:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports on U.S. jobs each month in the "Employment Situation Summary." This is the most important jobs report,because it is the most comprehensive and credible. It surveys 160,000 non-farm businesses and agencies on the number of jobs, as well as the wages paid, and the hours worked. The jobs report will tell you which industries are adding jobs, whether American workers are working longer hours, and how fast salaries are increasing. See Current Jobs Statistics.

The BLS Jobs Report Includes Unemployment:

To get the number of unemployed, the BLS must undertake a separate survey of households, not businesses. This household report also includes workers' age, sex, and race/ethnicity. The household survey has a more expansive scope than the establishment survey because it includes the self-employed,unpaid family workers, agricultural workers, and private household workers, who are excluded by the establishment survey. However, it is not as accurate as the business establishment survey because it has a smaller sample size. That's why employment numbers are taken from the establishment survey.

ADP Jobs Report:

The ADP National Employment Report® is released on the first Wednesday of each month. It's produced by the ADP Research InstituteSM and Moody’s Analytics. It uses business payroll data to report on the number of jobs added in the private sector. It excludes farming (as does the BLS report) and, more important, government jobs (included in the BLS report). For that reason, it's incomplete. It's important because it's released the Wednesday before the BLS report. It gives some analysts an earlier view of what might happen in the Friday report.

However, ADP is quick to say it's not intended to be predictive. Like the BLS report, it's revised as more data comes in later in the month. These revised numbers are 96% correlated with the revised BLS jobs report. See the latest monthly ADP report.

Weekly Jobless Claims Report:

The Department of Labor also releases a weekly jobless claims report. This measures the claims for initial unemployment benefits reported by each state every week. It also reports how many of the unemployed are still receiving benefits. This report gives an indication of trends, whether there are more or less unemployed than the week before. The main value of this report is that it is weekly, so it gives some idea of trends in between the monthly jobs reports. However, it doesn't accurately predict the monthly report. Furthermore, it is very volatile, which can be very misleading. See the latest weekly jobless claims report.

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