About the Data

Each business day, the United States Treasury Department publishes a report on the workings of the government’s income and spending. On this Daily Treasury Statement, there is a line-item called Withheld Income and Employment Taxes. (Here in the USA, workers have taxes automatically deducted from each paycheck.)

Using this tax-collection data, we can get a real-time feel for how well the economy is doing every business-day. Other data, such as unemployment claims, jobs-creation, etc. are only published weekly or monthly. This data is also not seasonally adjusted, estimated, or massaged in any way. The Treasury Department simply reports how much money they collect each day.

Data on jobs also do not tell us much about the quality of the jobs. Is it a good thing if three new jobs were created? Maybe, but what if one highly-paid worker was fired, and four minimum-wage workers were hired? Is the economy doing well, or not? In such a circumstance, it is entirely possible that the five workers involved have lower combined income. The tax data gives us a better insight because it gives us a read on the grand total of all employment in the economy.

This data is also not widely followed. Economists don’t like simple bean-counting. They would rather perform exotic calculations using elaborate models, surveys, and analysis. That’s their job security. So, while this data gives a far superior insight into the economy, it will likely maintain its low-profile, and edge, indefinitely because economists will continue to tell their bosses that much more elaborate analysis is required.

Tax data is the ultimate “hard data” but it does come with considerations – especially when tax rates change. If tax collections go up or down, was it due to the economy, or the rate-change? Please see this page for a discussion of recent changes in tax rates.

The Treasury Department only publishes daily and monthly reports. They don’t do any analysis of the data from an economic perspective. No moving-averages, growth-rates, charts, etc. You can’t even download a spreadsheet of the data. So, that’s why a website such as The Daily Jobs Update is needed.