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If you thought the U.S. jobs report for May was confusing, June’s could be even worse.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is taking additional steps to solve data-collection issues that have resulted in an official unemployment rate that appears to understate the true scale of joblessness in America during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Problem

Here’s what happened: The problem stemmed from respondents misunderstanding questions, or survey-takers failing to properly code many people as unemployed while temporarily laid off. Instead, many people seem to have been misclassified as being employed but not at work due to other reasons, which is assumed to reflect the pandemic.

Serious Confusion

So if the data issue is solved in June and millions of workers are moved from the employed category to the unemployed one, but the labor market in reality improves, the official rate might appear to increase from 13.3% in May too, for example, 15% in June — when the more appropriate comparison might be to the BLS’ adjusted May rate of 16.4%.

Does that make sense? I may need to re-word this blog post.

Bottom Line

The bottom line, millions of Americans’ financial lives are at stake.

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