Knowing how data is collected is key

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An article in USA today discussed how the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)  changing how it collects unemployment data.  Prior to this date the data was collected on forms that the unemployed filled out  the number of months unemployed had a full range of choices, but the top choice was 99 months or more.  The new form will include a new maximum of 260 months or longer.  They stated that the longer unemployment times that are currently existing may not be represented well with the old collection method.

I would have assumed that the BLS would have tracked time by collecting the start date until the current date.  Well I would be wrong, apparently.  If I was running a project and was provided duration data, such as time unemployed, I would have assumed it could include real values, not truncated at an artificial maximum.

Now how will it impact the statistics in the new year, expect excuses that it is not really higher, it is the statistical calculation change.

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