America has half a million fewer jobs than initially believed

The U.S. labor market isn’t as strong as initially believed, according to new figures published on Wednesday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes monthly employment statistics, but once a year, checks and revises the estimates those numbers are based on, known as the “benchmark revision.” The number, which is considered more precise, is based on data from state unemployment tax records.

This year’s preliminary data, however, contained bad news for the economy: Employers added 501,000 fewer jobs than first estimated as of March 2019. It’s the biggest revision in almost a decade.

About two-thirds of the downward revisions stemmed from the retail, which had 146,400 fewer jobs, and leisure and hospitality industries, which had 175,000 fewer workers. Other industries, however, reported drops in employment as well. Manufacturing, construction and mining and logging also lowered their estimates.

The updated data mean the 223,000 average monthly job increase in 2018 — the best since 2015 and frequently touted by President Trump as evidence that his administration’s policies are helping the economy — dropped to about 181,000.

While not as robust, it still shows that job creation is expanding at a steady rate.

The Labor Department will update these revisions in February 2020.