Two Jobs Surveys of One Labor Market and Yes They Can Disagree

Remember, folks, there are two surveys that track trends in the job market. The Household Survey and the Establishment Survey. The Household Survey tracks unemployment by asking individuals whether they have actively looked for work in the last four weeks. The Establishment Survey asks employers how many people they have on their payrolls.

Much to the dismay of intrepid business reporters everywhere, it is not unusual for the two surveys to move in two different directions.

While the two surveys over short periods of time can sometimes differ, over the long haul they will tell the same story about the health of the labor market. Currently, that story is that employment is growing in Pennsylvania but not fast enough to bring down the unemployment rate. 

Both surveys have estimates on employment which are graphed below. As you can see, there have been periods where one survey is showing rising employment and the other falling, but over a long enough time period, employment growth in the surveys moves together.  

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