Understanding the Household Survey Numbers (NRO Fake Award Edition)

When are the folks at the National Review ever going to understand what this footnote in the BLS Household Survey report on employment means:

Data affected by changes in population controls in January 2000, January 2003, January 2004, and January 2005.

I ask because of who received the first “Jayson Award” from Donald Luskin. David M. Kiriazis (chairman of the economics department at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland) writes:

Unless nothing else changed, a decline in the unemployment rate could not possibly be explained “entirely” by people dropping out of the labor force. In fact, from June 2003 to Feb 2004, the labor force did decline from 147 to 146.5 million, but the number of unemployed declined from 9.2 to 8.2 million. Hence, the decline in the unemployment rate was mainly the result of more people finding jobs.

Interestingly, BLS’s reporting for the civilian noninstitutional population had it at 222.509 million for December 2003 but only 222.161 million for January 2004. Unless one believes that the U.S. adult population declined by about 350 thousand in one month, Kiriazis’s calculations are suspect. As far as the number of people finding jobs, the employment to population ratio fell from 62.3% in June 2003 to 62.2% in February 2004. I hope Kiriazis understands our population tends to grow over time so that adding 125 thousand new jobs per month is not going to get us back to full employment very soon.

Since the Jayson Award is dedicated to someone who allegedly caught Krugman in a lie, let’s remember that he was referring to the labor force participation rate, which fell from 66.5% in June 2003 to 65.9% in February 2004.