The increase in Gallup's survey is significant enough - 0.3% - that it is probable even the BLS adjusted figure will increase as well:
Gallup finds U.S. unemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, to be 9.1% in February, based on almost 30,000 interviews with a random sample of Americans. When Gallup applies the 0.5-percentage-point seasonal adjustment that the government applied to its unadjusted data for February last year, it produces an adjusted unemployment rate for February 2012 of 8.6% -- a substantial increase from the 8.3% adjusted rate the government reported for January.
The findings provide a preview of what Gallup will report in its monthly employment release next Thursday, March 8. Because Gallup's data are collected continuously throughout the month, the data are available now, one week ahead of the BLS report scheduled for Friday, March 9.
Three key factors help determine the relationship between Gallup's measurement of the unemployment rate and the unemployment rate reported by the government. The first involves the relationship between Gallup's and the government's unadjusted survey results. Data from the past two years show that on an unadjusted basis, Gallup's and the government's unemployment measurements track fairly closely in both direction and magnitude.
The White House will spin the increase as the normal month to month fluctuations in the unemployment rate. This is based at least partly in fact.
But the truth is, with so many Americans discouraged about finding work that the BLS isn't even counting, once those people start to filter back into the job market, the rate of unemployment is bound to rise. Recent drops in the rate have probably encouraged at least some of those workers to try looking again. This is why many economists don't expect the unemployment rate to drop below 8% until next year.
The politics of this are obvious. It will be tougher for the president to claim that his economic policies are working when so many can't find a job.