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A closer look at Rauner's math and actual jobs lost

Did Illinois lose 90,000 jobs under Gov. Pat Quinn’s leadership as Republican Bruce Rauner suggests? Or did the state lose 3,400 jobs? Turns out, both numbers are technically correct.

In a Spanish-language TV ad titled “Mejor” — which means “better” in Spanish — Rauner claims the state has lost 90,000 jobs since Quinn took office. took a closer look at the real numbers.

The one problem is that Rauner is using numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which uses surveys of people in households, instead of the much more commonly used survey of payroll records. It’s that payroll survey that’s used by virtually all journalists, economists and politicians when measuring jobs lost or jobs gained.

So while the household survey shows a decline of nearly 86,000 jobs, the payroll survey (for nonfarm employment) shows 3,400 jobs lost from Jan. 2009 to Jan. 2014.

What exactly is the difference between the two surveys? According to Fact Check:

Both are monthly surveys. But the payroll data — technically called “total nonfarm employment, seasonally adjusted” — is projected from payroll records at 144,000 establishments and government agencies at 554,000 work sites nationwide. By contrast, the household survey uses a much smaller sample — about 60,000 households. The household survey is used to calculate the unemployment rate, but the payroll data is “considered to be the more accurate employment indicator,” as the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco explains in a Q&A about why the Fed uses payroll data to analyze employment trends.

Either way, you can’t dispute that Illinois has lost jobs under Quinn, while during that same time period, the U.S. has seen a net gain of 3.7 million jobs. But how bad the news is depends on which set of numbers you lean on.