The first Friday of every month is circled in red marker on the calendars of every economics geek, policy wonk and business journalist in America. Informally known as "jobs day," this is the day that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its monthly Employment Situation Summary, a.k.a "the jobs report," at precisely 8:30 a.m.
The jobs report makes headlines every month because it's such an effective measure of the health of the U.S. labor market. In the report, which looks back at the previous month, the BLS updates key stats like the unemployment rate, how many jobs were added (or lost) during the month, and whether wages and earnings went up or down on average.
Economists, media outlets and politicians trip over themselves to comment on the jobs report because its facts and figures are a good indication of whether America's economic policies are working. The numbers in the jobs report can influence how the Federal Reserve conducts monetary policy and whether Congress approves extensions for federal unemployment benefits.
Since the jobs report is so important and such a recurring feature of the news cycle, it's probably time that you understood what the heck it is. We reached out to Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an avid reader of the monthly jobs report, for some answers.