Some Comments on the "Birth/Death" Controversy Surrounding U.S. Employment Data

By: Douglas R. Gillespie | Sun, May 15, 2005
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Last Wednesday (5/11) I received an e-mail from a client regarding a Morgan Stanley research article he had just read. The piece was entitled, "'Birth/Death' Confusion Redux." It was authored by Ted Wieseman and appeared in Morgan Stanley's regular publication, "Global Economic Forum" (edition of May 11th).

In his article, Mr. Wieseman was a bit critical of those who think there might be a problem (or even two) with the so-called "Birth/Death" adjustments the US Labor Department uses in computing its monthly payroll employment numbers. To wit:

"Spring is in the air, which in addition to warmer weather now seems to mean conspiracy theories running amok about the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 'birth/death' adjustment to the monthly payroll figures...."

While the client who sent me the e-mail knows we are not part of the "black helicopter" crowd, he also knows that from time to time, we have expressed a least a modicum of skepticism about the US employment numbers, and more specifically, about the methodology used in computing them. Thus, he wondered if we might have some thoughts about Mr. Wieseman's article.

I forwarded the request to my friend and associate, John Williams. I believe John's response will be of genuine interest to anyone who has had questions or concerns (conspiratorial or other) about the DOL's "Birth/Death" adjustments.




Douglas R. Gillespie

Author: Douglas R. Gillespie

Douglas R. Gillespie, Sr.
Gillespie Research Associates
165 Sheridan Avenue
HO-HO-KUS, NJ 07423

Doug Gillespie oversees his own financial-market and economic consulting firm, Gillespie Research Associates. For a complimentary sample of Dougs material, e-mail him at

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