What Is the Jobs Report?:
The Non-farm Payroll Employment Report is actually the nation's monthly report on how many jobs were added or lost, and where. It's got that wonky title because businesses report on how many workers are on their payroll. The government doesn't keep track of farm employees because it's so seasonal.
The most important thing to remember is that the economy needs 150,000 new jobs each month to keep growing. If the jobs number is lower, that's the sign of a sluggish economy. If more jobs are added, it will probably be enough to reduce unemployment.
It can be confusing, because there are two other jobs reports. The non-farm payroll report is preceded by the monthly ADP report, and there's also 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 Non-Farm Employment Report is produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) each month. Also called the "Employment Situation Summary," it's the most important 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.