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Employment: Preliminary annual benchmark revision shows downward adjustment of 306,000 jobs


The BLS released the preliminary annual benchmark revision showing 306,000 fewer payroll jobs as of March 2023. The final revision will be published when the January 2024 employment report is released in February 2024. The number is then “wedged back” to the previous revision (March 2022).  Usually, the preliminary estimate is pretty close to the final benchmark estimate.

The annual revision is benchmarked to state tax records. From the BLS:

n accordance with usual practice, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is announcing the preliminary estimate of the upcoming annual benchmark revision to the establishment survey employment series. The final benchmark revision will be issued in February 2024 with the publication of the January 2024 Employment Situation news release.

Each year, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey employment estimates are benchmarked to comprehensive counts of employment for the month of March. These counts are derived from state unemployment insurance (UI) tax records that nearly all employers are required to file. For National CES employment series, the annual benchmark revisions over the last 10 years have averaged plus or minus one-tenth of one percent of total nonfarm employment. The preliminary estimate of the benchmark revision indicates a downward adjustment to March 2023 total nonfarm employment of −306,000 (−0.2 percent).
emphasis addedConstruction was revised up by 30,000 jobs, and manufacturing revised down by 43,000 jobs.

This preliminary estimate showed 358,000 fewer private sector jobs, and 52,000 more government jobs (as of March 2023) than originally estimated.

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