Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Employment Situation Summary report based on information from the prior month. The data for the report is derived primarily from two sources: a survey of approximately 60,000 households, or about 110,000 individuals (household survey), and an establishment survey of over 651,000 worksites.
Results from each survey provide information about the labor sector, including the:
- Total number of employed and unemployed people
- Unemployment rate (the percentage of the labor force that is unemployed)
- Number of people working full- or part-time in U.S. businesses or for the government
- Average number of hours worked per week by nonfarm workers
- Average hourly and weekly earnings for all nonfarm employees
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when workers are unemployed, they, their families, and the country as a whole can be negatively impacted. Workers and their families lose wages, and the country loses the goods or services that could have been produced. In addition, the purchasing power of these workers is lost, which can lead to unemployment for yet other workers.
Investors pay particular attention to the information provided in this report. For instance, a decreasing unemployment rate may indicate an expanding economy and potentially rising interest rates. In this scenario, stock values may rise with expanding corporate profits, while bond prices may fall for fear of rising interest rates. Advancing wages may also be a sign of higher inflation and interest rates, as well as greater economic productivity.
Generally, the Employment Situation Summary report provides statistics and data on the direction of wage and employment trends — information that can be invaluable to investors.