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WASHINGTON — Conventional wisdom says this recovery
has been a “jobless” one, but conventional wisdom
hasn’t looked at another set of employment numbers
that shows far more Americans working, a leading
economist says.

September’s small addition of 57,000 to total nonfarm
payrolls was the first gain in payrolls since January,
according to the government’s closely watched survey
of business establishments. In the first nine months
of 2003, the establishment survey reported a net
336,000 decline in payrolls, according to the Labor
Department.

However, the department’s separate household survey,
used to calculate the unemployment rate, has reported
a gain of 1.1 million jobs over that same
period.

The wide difference suggests more people are actually
working than the payroll data indicate, says Brian
Wesbury, chief economist at Griffin Kubik Stephens &
Thomson Inc., a Chicago-based investment banking firm.

“Thoughout this year, we have pointed out the
discrepancy between the household survey, which calls
people on the phone to ask whether they are working,
and the establishment survey, which calculates the
number of people on companies’ payrolls,” he said.

Wesbury explains that the payroll survey does not
capture all of the jobs created by individuals
starting their own businesses or taking jobs with new
small firms that aren’t represented in the sample.

He says last month’s payroll gain confirms that the
jobs market has turned the corner, along with the
economy, which has been growing at about a 3 percent
clip. Employment is typically a lagging indicator.

Wesbury, former chief economist for the Joint Economic
Committee of Congress, predicts the economy will end
up growing a robust 5 percent in the second half of
this year.

Stocks shot up on stronger volume on Friday’s jobs
report, continuing a rally that started Wednesday.
Wall Street is looking for a follow-through day early
next week to confirm a possible break-out.

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