Report May Clear Up New York City's Jobs Mystery

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It turns out the city’s jobs mystery may have a happy ending.

The federal government uses two surveys to track the labor market: one of employers, one of households. Over the past year, these surveys have painted very different pictures of the city’s economy. The employer survey showed a gain of 73,000 jobs in 2011. The household survey showed only 5,500 more people working.

Experts struggled to explain the discrepancy. Were commuters taking all the new jobs? Were people doubling up on work? Or was something wrong with one of the surveys?

In a new report, the city’s Independent Budget Office finds first two explanations wanting, and determines that the employer survey appears to betting a more accurate result.

Using other statistics, the IBO estimates that during 2011, some 57,000 city residents became newly employed. That’s much closer to the 73,000 mark.

IBO also concludes that the city’s unemployment rate–which remains stubbornly above the nation’s–is high not because the job market is souring, but because workers who quit looking for jobs during the recession are returning to the labor force and night finding gigs right away.

But the unemployment rate is accurate, according to the IBO study.

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