Here’s why the February jobs report is coming out in the middle of the month

  • The monthly jobs report usually comes out on the first Friday of the month, but the February 2019 report will be out March 8, the second Friday.
  • That can happen from time to time, depending on when the surveys behind the jobs report are taken during a short month.

The jobs report is a monthly ritual for anyone following markets or the US economy, as it contains some of the main data points measuring the health of the labor market in the world’s largest economy.

The report almost always comes out on the first Friday of the month, but not this month: The February 2019 report is scheduled to be released on March 8, a week later than might be expected.

It turns out that this is due to the way the jobs numbers are gathered and how the days of the week fell this year during a short month. Bureau of Labor Statistics economist Megan Dunn explained the scheduling rules to Business Insider in 2017 when a similar phenomenon occurred (emphasis ours):

“Generally, the Employment Situation is scheduled for the third Friday after the reference period for the household and payroll surveys. This usually results in the release being scheduled for the first Friday of the month following the reference month. (In the case of the household survey, the reference period for a given month usually is the calendar week that includes the 12th of the month, and in the establishment (payroll) survey, the reference period is the pay period that includes the 12th of the month.) When the 12th is on a Sunday and there are 30 days or less in the month, the release date will wind up being the second Friday of the following month, as is the case with the release of February data [in 2017.]

That is, the Bureau of Labor Statistics bases its job figures on the week or pay period that includes the 12th. It then takes a few weeks to sort through all the raw survey results and get the published job numbers.

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If the 12th falls on a Tuesday, as it did last month, that makes the overall reference period later than it would be if it fell on another day: The February reference week was the 10th through the 16th, while if the 12th fell on, say, a Saturday as it did in January, the reference week would be the 6th through the 12th.

Combine the late survey week with a month that had just 28 days, and the third Friday after the reference week – jobs day – happens to be the second Friday of the next month.

Dunn also noted that there are other things that can affect the timing of the jobs report, such as federal holidays like Christmas and the 4th of July.

So, we’ll be back on the 8th with our usual full coverage of the jobs report.