So what's the margin of error?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In fact, the jobless rate is calculated based on survey data, not the unemployment insurance rolls. Roughly one-third of the nearly 15 million unemployed are not receiving benefits in the first place.

"Each month the Census Bureau conducts a survey of 60,000 households," Steinberg said in an email. "Each household provides labor force information on each member of the household. Everyone unemployed is counted as unemployed, no matter how long they have been unemployed. The survey does not ask about unemployment insurance benefits."

. . .

"Respondents are never asked specifically if they are unemployed, nor are they given an opportunity to decide their own labor force status," according to the BLS website. "Similarly, interviewers do not decide the respondents' labor force classification. They simply ask the questions in the prescribed way and record the answers. Based on information collected in the survey and definitions programmed into the computer, individuals are then classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force."
If the unemployme­nt number is based on what amounts polling, what is the margin of error? And couldn't that margin of error account for the fractions of a percent that change from month to month? Did the unemployme­nt rate really go down .4 percent last month or is that just variabilit­y in polling data?
It's based SURVEYS?!! Now I trust that number less than ever.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost