This research will explore the statistical methods and procedures employed by United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in collection, processing, analyses and dissemination of unemployment rate data in the United States. Statistical procedures and methods adopted by BLS determine the capability of the agency to forecast current and future trends in the unemployment rate for appropriate policy interventions. There are several statistical models available to BLS for collection and computation of unemployment rate data. These statistical models include Univariate Autoregressive models, Professional Forecasts model, Unemployment Flows Forecasts model, and Conditioning the FLOW-UC model. Univariate Autoregressive models encompass Autoregressive model (AR), Generalized autoregressive model (GAR), and Self-exciting threshold autoregressive mode (SETAR).
In the United States, unemployment rate data is available from the multidisciplinary data on labor economics collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the de facto body within the United States Department of Labor and the United States Federal Statistical System. Most of the data is collected through surveys by field economists who contact business establishments and ask a series of questions. Some of the questions asked include the number of employed or laid-off workers, the paid wages, the number of part-time or full-time employees, etc. The field economist then compiles or updates the data for further analysis. In the recent months, the BLS has given data on the state of employment and unemployment in the country. As at September 2015, the overall nonfarm employment went up by 142,000. The rate of unemployment remained at 5.1%. The number of unemployed people totaling 7.9 million did not have a significant change.
This research will test the validity of the statistical methods used by the BLS to collect and analyze data, and whether they give a true reflection of the state of the economy in the country. Though the most recent unemployment data shows that the rate of unemployment is declining, there are critics who argue that data from the BLS is misleading; there are millions of Americans who still cannot find jobs, especially the well-paying ones. Hence, an analysis of the statistical methods employed by the BLS is justified because there appears to be a disconnect between the facts given by the BLS and the realities on the ground.