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Center for Economics and the Environment: Policy Series


Official employment data for the St. Louis metro area produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are often unreliable and usually misleading. A major reason for this problem is that the BLS does not make full use of the data at its disposal. To address this, the Institute for the Study of Economics and the Environment (ISEE) at Lindenwood University has developed an alternative employment measure that makes better use of available data. More specifically, the ISEE employment series for the St. Louis MSA undergo rolling benchmark revisions four times a year as data become available. This is in contrast with official benchmark revisions, which occur only once per year despite the release throughout the year of newer and more-accurate information.

The methodology used to produce the ISEE series was tested using vintage data. According to these tests, if the ISEE series had been produced during the period from 2006-2009, it would have reduced the errors in the official data by more than 80 percent for many months of the year. The improvements would not have been as large for the most up-to-date months, however. Even so, the ISEE series would have been the most accurate estimates of St. Louis metro employment during those years, and should be the most accurate estimates available today.

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