Revised NYS and NYC unemployment rates eliminate the mid-2012 spike and clear up what had been a confused picture

March 18, 2013. Earlier this month the NYS Department of Labor released its annual revisions to the employment and unemployment data. As noted in an earlier blog entry, New York’s private payroll employment growth was revised upward and government employment was revised to show the loss of 59,000 state and local government jobs between December 2010 and December 2012.

In the revised unemployment data for 2011 and 2012 released by the Department of Labor, the unemployment trend replaces what had been a confusing spike in the unemployment rates for NYS to show a more smoothed out picture.

The pre-benchmark and post-benchmark picture is very similar for NYC, although the unemployment rate is higher for NYC.

While it is not unusual in a recovery to see a month or two where the unemployment moves higher as more people resume looking for work as the hiring situation improves. This adds to the labor force count, and if the labor force grows faster than employment in the household series, the unemployment rate would rise. Payroll employment numbers are from a monthly survey of businesses while the labor force and unemployment data are based on a monthly survey of households by the Census Bureau in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, in the middle of 2012, the pre-benchmarked NYS and NYC unemployment numbers were showing a fairly steady increase in the unemployment rate that pushed it about 1% higher than the level from the spring of 2011. This was puzzling to economists since NYS and NYC payroll job growth was steady and on a par with the nation during this period. However, as would be expected, the national unemployment rate was showing a steady downward trend while unemployment was reported as rising in NYS and NYC.

We had noted this anomalous situation in our The State of Working NewYork 2012 edition, and reviewed the data in more detail and with comparisons to the trends in other large states in a presentation prepared in the late fall.

The revised labor market data for NYS and NYC show more labor force growth in both 2011 and 2012 and with considerably higher household employment growth in both years. The revised data show unemployment falling fairly steadily in both NYS and NYC for the last several months of 2012.