Washington Post

The May jobs report had 'misclassification error' that made the unemployment rate look lower than it is. Here's what happened

Economists said the big takeaway is that it's hard to collect real-time data during a pandemic and that while the unemployment rate remains high - likely more than 16 percent - it has declined a little from April. Foto: Tony Dejak Foto: Tony Dejak/AP

When the U.S. government's official jobs report for May came out on Friday, it included a note at the bottom saying there had been a major "error" indicating that the unemployment rate likely should be higher than the widely reported 13.3 percent rate.

The special note said that if this "misclassification error" had not occurred, the "overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported," meaning the unemployment rate would be about 16.3 percent for May. But that would still be an improvement from an unemployment rate of about 19.7 percent for April, applying the same standards...

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