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Last Year's Nice Job Surprise


Economic Trends

LAST YEAR'S NICE JOB SURPRISE

A coming benchmark revision of nationwide job growth in 1994 should show greater overall gains, but some deceleration late in the year. That's the message economist Mark M. Zandi of Regional Financial Associates draws from recent Labor Dept. revisions of state employment data (chart).

Each year, as the government issues monthly estimates for national payroll employment, every state comes up with estimates for its own bailiwick. Although these estimates are based on similar data, states use different techniques to correct for jobs created by new businesses that payroll surveys may miss.

The upshot is that the sum of the states' tally often diverges significantly from the more publicized national number. It is only after both are revised--based on more complete payroll data--that the two measures are brought more closely into line.

That is now taking place. The sum of the states' numbers, which came to 114.3 million jobs in December, has been revised up to 115.6 million. And that, says Zandi, suggests that the yearend national total of 115.1 million will be raised by some 600,000 when the national benchmark revision is released in June--pushing up average job growth for 1994 to 2.8% from 2.6%.

The state revisions show only Hawaii suffering a job decline on an average basis in 1994. The Rocky Mountain states posted the fastest growth, while the most sluggish were New York, Connecticut, California, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

The new data also suggest that job growth began slowing late last year--a view supported by the upward trend of weekly unemployment-insurance claims since December, and the recent decline in the Conference Board's help-wanted-advertising index.BY GENE KORETZ


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