Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sets of Wisconsin jobs data aren't matching up. What gives?

The Wisconsin DWD released the local jobs and unemployment rates for August today, and it had some odd discrepancies that indicate the complete picture on Wisconsin’s current jobs situation is yet to come into focus.

The first item I noted was the jobs by Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). If you look at that, the first thing that jumps out is that the growing Madison MSA is not included in the seasonally-adjusted metro numbers because Green County was just added to that MSA last year, so the comparison is not apples-to-apples.

But even in taking Madison out, the figures are very odd in this DWD report.

Change in employment, Aug 2015
Statewide +7,100

All Metro areas – Madison -2,600
Madison MSA + non-metro areas +9,700

And it wasn’t just one metro that dragged down that statistic, as almost all of the metro areas measured either lost jobs, or stayed at the same seasonally-adjusted levels in August vs July.

Change in jobs, Wisconsin MSAs, Aug 2015
Appleton -700
Eau Claire -400
Fond du Lac -100
Green Bay -200
Janesville +300
La Crosse +100
Milwaukee–W.O.W -600
Oshkosh-Neenah -900
Racine 0
Sheboygan -100
Wausau 0

That is very odd, as the non-seasonally adjusted figures have these same non-Madison metro areas only losing 100 jobs in August and the rest of the state only gaining 4,500. How did the metro areas have their jobs deflated on a seasonally-adjusted basis while non-metro areas were inflated

This seasonal vs non-seasonal difference also reveals itself in stats which relate to the state’s alleged drop in its unemployment rate.

Year-over-year change, Wisconsin
Total labor force seasonally-adjusted -27,800
Total labor force non-seasonally adjusted -11,900

Total employment seasonally-adjusted -0
Total employment non-seasonally adjusted +28,600

Total unemployment seasonally-adjusted -27,800
Total unemployment non-seasonally adjusted -40,400

There shouldn’t be a gap like that in year-over-year figures in seasonal vs. non-seasonally adjusted figures, because the season is the same. The same pattern repeats in the non-farm payrolls, with seasonally adjusted totals up 47,600, but the non-seasonally adjusted jobs are up 55,900.

So between a disproportionate amount of jobs being in non-metro areas in Wisconsin, as well as the disparities between seasonally and non-seasonally adjusted jobs figures seems to indicate some adjustment that needs to shake out in the next couple of months as Summer ends and things adjust back into non-tourist season in Wisconsin. The question is which direction are those adjustments going to be made?

I truthfully don’t know this answer, other than to point out that the Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages (QCEW) indicates that these monthly jobs figures will be revised down with benchmarking early next year. But that still doesn’t explain these differences, and it makes the upcoming jobs reports all the more intriguing.

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