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Taking the Measure of Labor Department Surveys - 2004
Management Recruiters International, Inc.
Tim Kane, Ph.D.
Aaron Smith, Ph.D.
Management Recruiters International (MRI), the largest professional
staffing institution in the world, has become concerned that increased
hiring demand observed by its affiliates is not correlating with the
measure of the total U.S. employment numbers released by the Bureau of
Labor Statistics (BLS). Consequently, in an effort to educate its
clients on how the numbers are calculated, MRI commissioned this study
to explore the mechanics of the BLS monthly Employment Situation report.
There are two surveys that BLS uses to generate the monthly report, the
household survey and the payroll survey. With the survey findings now
seen as influencing everything from the broader stock market to the
hiring practices of major businesses to the presidential race, the two
BLS surveys are considered the preeminent yardsticks for calculating
hiring practices on a national scale. This report contrasts positive
official labor statistics with the negative payroll estimate of total
employment, and identifies new technical problems with its methodology.
The large sample size of the payroll survey has overshadowed sample