Institute for Economic Advancement

Posts tagged: Unemployment rate

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – March 2016

By , April 29, 2016 5:05 PM

Earlier this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new statistics on metro area employment and unemployment in March.  Also included in this week’s data dump were the long-awaited annual revisions to household employment and unemployment for metro areas.

The new statistics for March showed that the long decline in unemployment rates has continued, and even accelerated in some metro areas.   The not-seasonally adjusted data showed that unemployment rates have fallen significantly over the past 12 months, with changes ranging from -0.8% in Texarkana to -1.9% in Pine Bluff.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

From February to March, unemployment rates continued their downward march in every Arkansas metro area except for Pine Bluff, where the rate stalled at 5.6%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

The unemployment rate changes thus far in 2016 come on top of downward revisions to the data for 2015.  As shown in the figures below, the revisions to data for 2014 and 2015 generally evened-out some of the volatility, with the revised data showing smoother, more monotonic downward paths.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metro Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

In some cases, there were noticeable changes in the estimated unemployment rate levels (e.g. Pine Bluff and Memphis).  The table below summarizes the impact of the revisions on annual average unemployment rates.  With the exception of Memphis, revised unemployment levels were subject to small revisions in 2014, but the revisions had the effect of lowering the 2015 average unemployment rates for all eight metro areas.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Underlying the changes in unemployment rates, data on employment and unemployment were also revised.  The chart below shows the impact of the revisions on overall employment levels (as measured in the household survey data).  As of December 2015, the revisions increased measured employment in four metro areas and decreased it in the other four.  The largest revisions to the employment data were for Pine Bluff (+5.5%) and Hot Springs (-3.4%).

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Seasonally Adjusted Metropolitan Area Estimates

Payroll Data
Data from the independent establishment survey showed weaker employment growth than the household survey.  From February to March, payroll employment declined in 6 of 8 metro areas, rising only in Hot Springs and Jonesboro.  Compared to a year ago, employment has declined in Pine Bluff, but is higher in all other metro areas.  Fayetteville and Jonesboro have displayed the highest growth rates over the past year.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – March 2016

By , April 15, 2016 3:14 PM

The Arkansas unemployment rate was reported to have declined again in March, this time by two-tenths of a percent to 4.0%.  Over the past three months, the rate has fallen by 0.7%.  More remarkable is the underlying data on household employment that has driven the rate decline.  In March, the number of employed Arkansans was reported to have been up 9,569 — the third month in a row of gains near or above 10,000.  From December through March, household employment has increased by more than 30,000.  This is literally unprecedented, and as reported below, it is at odds with the data reported in the separate payroll employment report.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payrolls were down in March, dropping by 3,900 (seasonally adjusted).  In addition, the data for the previous month were revised slightly downward.  From December through March, payroll employment has declined by a total of 3,100.  It is not unusual for the household data and payroll data to give conflicting signals.  The two sets of employment measures are constructed using different data sources and methods.  The household report includes workers in the farming sector, the self-employed, and workers with jobs outside of Arkansas, whereas the payroll data do not.  The payroll data also count each job, whereas the household survey treats multiple job-holders as a single worker.  None of these differences is likely to account for the type of discrepancy we’ve seen between the two sets of employment numbers so far in 2016.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Two more likely explanations exist to explain the differences in the two employment series.  One possibility is that the unusually mild winter has had distorting effects on the seasonal patterns in the data.  If this is the case, underlying trends in employment growth are likely to become more apparent as the year proceeds.  The other possibility is that unusual patterns are affecting the viability of the model-based components of the data estimation process.  If this is the case, the divergence may persist in the currently published data until they have been revised with more complete information.

For now, taking the data at face value, the table below shows the breakdown of payroll employment changes for March.  For the month, job losses were evident in the goods-producing sectors and in each component of Trade, Transportation and Utilities.  Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services continued the positive growth that has characterized those sectors throughout the current economic expansion.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES).

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Metro Area Unemployment and Employment – February 2016

By , April 7, 2016 4:55 PM

New data on unemployment rates in  metro areas came out yesterday.  However, the full time series for employment, unemployment and labor force participation are still not available following the most recent data revision.  Consequently, the only information to report at this time is the not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for February.  As shown in the table, unemployment rates have fallen substantially over the most recent 12 months in all eight of the metro areas covering portions of Arkansas.  Declines range from one full percentage point in Texarkana to 1.7% in Memphis.  The BLS News Release noted that Memphis was tied for the largest unemployment rate decline among the 51 metro areas in the country with a population of 1 million or more.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Employment:
As previously reported, statewide nonfarm payroll employment rose sharply in February, increasing by 6,100 jobs (0.5%).  Over half of that net job gain took place in Northwest Arkansas:  Employment in the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area rose by 3,100 for the month — 1.3%.  Gains were also reported in Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff.  Employment was down for the month in Fort Smith, Memphis, and Texarkana.*  On a year over year basis, employment is up in all metro areas except Pine Bluff.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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Note:  Seasonally adjusted payroll employment data for Texarkana remain temporarily unavailable from the BLS.  The data in this report were seasonally adjusted in-house at the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – February 2016

By , March 25, 2016 11:41 AM

The employment and unemployment report for February was unambiguously positive.  For the second month, the unemployment rate declined by more than one-tenth of a percent:  Following a 0.3% decline in January, the rate dropped another 0.2% in February, to 4.2%.  A one-half percent decline in unemployment in Arkansas is literally unprecedented (at least going back as far as 1976).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The February decline in the unemployment rate was underpinned by a significant increase in the number of employed Arkansans (+10,702) and a decline in the number of unemployed (-2,342).   The first two months of 2016 have seen some remarkable changes in these statistics, but even over a longer period, the trends are clearly positive.  Over the most recent six months, the household survey has shown employment gains averaging over 5,000 per month, and average declines in the number of unemployed by over 1,700 per month.  It is quite likely that some of the recent statistics will ultimately be revised to smooth out some of the unusually large changes, but the data clearly show encouraging trends.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Employment
The report on nonfarm payroll employment was similarly upbeat.  Total payroll employment rose by 6,100 in February (seasonally adjusted).  Moreover, the data from January were revised upward by approximately 1,000 jobs.  The recent payroll data have shown more volatility than the household employment statistics, but still indicate positive trends.  Over the past six months, payroll employment gains have averaged approximately 2,700 per month.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The table below shows that February’s employment gains were broad based.  Sizable gains were recorded for Leisure & Hospitality Services, Transportation & Utilities, and Retail Trade.  Construction employment also showed a strong increase.  Combined with a monthly rises in Manufacturing employment, goods-producing sectors contributed positively to the month’s employment increase.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Compared to February of 2015, payroll employment has increased by 27,900 jobs–a 2.3% rate of expansion.  The only sectors to have lost jobs over that period are Mining & Logging (which has been affected by a slowdown in energy-producing activities) and Manufacturing (which has been subject to a long-term downward trend).  Employment in service sectors and in Retail Trade have accounted for the bulk of employment growth over the past year — and over the course of the entire economic expansion for that matter.  With the recent increases, statewide employment is now 21,400 higher than it was before the recession hit in 2008.

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Metro Area Employment & Unemployment – January 2016

By , March 18, 2016 5:04 PM

New data on employment and unemployment in metropolitan areas were released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The BLS report noted that unemployment rates were “lower in January than a year earlier in 333 of the 387 metropolitan areas.”  All of the metro areas covering parts of Arkansas fell into this category.  As shown in the table below, metro unemployment rates have declined dramatically over the past 12 months, with changes ranging from -1.1 percentage points in Fort Smith to -2.3 percentage points in Pine Bluff.  Significant differences in unemployment rates around the state remain:  The unemployment rate in Northwest Arkansas stood at 3.3% in January (not seasonally adjusted) while the rate for Pine bluff was 6.4%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Data from the household survey–including unemployment rates–were revised since the release of the December data.  However, the revised estimates have not yet been loaded into the BLS time series database, nor have revised seasonally adjusted estimates yet been reported.  Consequently, further detailed examination of the paths of unemployment in Arkansas metro areas will await the availability of the revised data, scheduled to be available on April 15th.

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment dropped statewide in January, with the decline reflected in the metropolitan area data for Fayetteville, Hot Springs, Memphis and Pine Bluff.  Jonesboro and Texarkana saw employment gains for the month, while Little Rock and Fort Smith were essentially unchanged.  Compared to a year ago, employment was up in most areas of the state, with the exception of a small decline registered for Pine Bluff (which is also the only metro area in the state with net employment losses since the employment trough of February 2010).  After revisions (see below), only three metro areas presently display higher levels of employment than before the 2008-09 recession.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The payroll data have been revised as part of the annual benchmark processing to reflect 2015 employment counts from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.  Not seasonally adjusted figures were revised back to April 2014, and seasonally adjusted numbers were revised back to January 2011.  As summarized in the table below, and illustrated with the subsequent panel of charts, the revisions were in some cases quite substantial.

The revisions were generally positive, with the notable exceptions of Jonesboro and Hot Springs.  Previously reported data had shown Jonesboro to be the fastest-growing metro area in the state, expanding by 7.5% during 2014 and 2015.  That growth rate was marked down by nearly two percentage points.  Meanwhile a sharp upward revision to the data for Northwest Arkansas put the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers metro area into the top growth rate position (11.1%).  The other downward revision affected Hot Springs:  A 2.3% downward revision to the estimated level of employment in Hot Springs lowered reported growth from 3.7% to 1.6% for the 2014-15 period.

Source:   Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The largest positive revision was reflected in a 6.3% increase in estimated employment in Pine Bluff.  Previously reported data had indicated a 6.8% contraction in employment — primarily over the first half of 2015.  The revised data suggest that employment in Pine Bluff has stabilized over the past two years.

A similar, albeit smaller, positive revision for Fort Smith changed estimated employment growth from negative to positive.  Previously published data for Texarkana* had indicated sluggish growth but the new data indicate a robust pace of employment expansion.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Note:  Seasonally adjusted payroll employment data for Texarkana remain temporarily unavailable from the BLS.  The data in this report were seasonally adjusted in-house at the Institute for Economic Advancement.

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – January 2016

By , March 14, 2016 4:08 PM

The Arkansas unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of one percent in January to 4.4%.  The decline reflected an increase in the number of employed Arkansans of more than 10,000 and a decline in the number of unemployed by nearly 4,000.  Both the 0.3% decline in the unemployment rate and the 10,000 increase in household employment are not unprecedented, but are unusually large.  We should bear in mind that there is always a margin of error in reported statistics — particularly the initial releases — and month-to-month changes are not necessarily indicative of significant underlying developments.  Nevertheless, the unemployment rate decline and the changes in household employment and unemployment are positive indicators.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Payroll Employment
In contrast to the large gain in employment from the household survey, nonfarm payroll employment declined by 5,100 in January (seasonally adjusted).  However, the decline followed a December increase of 6,800 (revised), so the net change from November to January was +1,700.  This type of monthly reversal suggests a likelihood that unusual seasonal influences are relevant.  It is normal for employment to rise in December and then drop off sharply in January.  (In fact, the not-seasonally adjusted payroll employment numbers show a decline of 24,500 in January.)  The temporary spike in the seasonally adjusted figures for December-January suggest that seasonal employment increased more than usual in 2015, with the drop-off in January reflecting a return to more normal conditions.

As shown in the table below, the January drop in employment was attributable to declines in several sectors, including Construction, Transportation & Utilities,  Professional & Business Services, and Other Services.  Compared to January of 2015, only two sectors have shown net declines:  Mining and Logging (which has been adversely affected by low energy prices) and Manufacturing.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Annual Revisions
With this data release, the BLS released the results of the annual benchmark revisions to the payroll data.  As expected, the revised data show downward revisions to the data for late 2014 and the first part of 2015, with a cumulative adjustment of -8,700 jobs through April 2015.  However, revisions to data from the later part of 2015 reversed those downward adjustments.  By December, the revised data show a net upward revision of +3,100 jobs.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

We will report details of the payroll employment revisions by sector and for metropolitan areas in subsequent posts on the Arkansas Economist.

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Revised Unemployment Statistics for 2015

By , February 29, 2016 12:16 PM

Annual revisions to the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) have been completed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  For Arkansas, the revised data show a lower unemployment rate throughout 2015 than was previously reported.  In particular, the newly revised data eliminate a mysterious surge in the unemployment rate that was originally reported during the late spring months of 2015.  The new numbers show that the Arkansas Unemployment rate stood at 4.7% in December, revised down from 4.8%.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS).

As shown in the panels below, the revision to the Arkansas unemployment rate is largely attributable to a revised path for the number of unemployed.  The figures also show that the number of employed Arkansans at the beginning of 2015 was revised downward, so that the growth rate of household employment was actually higher than originally reported.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

The newly revised statistics are from the program sometimes referred to as the “household survey.”  Data on nonfarm payroll employment come from an independent survey of employers.  Revisions to the payroll data will be announced on March 14th.   Estimates constructed by the Institute for Economic Advancement suggest that the current level of nonfarm payroll employment for Arkansas will be revised downward by approximately 8 thousand jobs.

Metro Area Employment and Unemployment – December 2015

By , February 3, 2016 4:17 PM

As previously reported, statewide unemployment declined by two-tenths of a percent in December — a result that is mirrored in new statistics for Arkansas’ metropolitan areas.  As shown in the table below, unemployment rates fell in all eight metro areas that include parts of Arkansas.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Over the course of the year, unemployment rates around the state have declined significantly.  From December 2014 to December 2015, changes ranged from -0.4% in Fort Smith to one full percentage point in Hot Springs and Jonesboro.  At the end of the year, unemployment rates were at or below 5% in five of the eight metro areas.

Source:   Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

Payroll Employment
Changes in nonfarm payroll employment were mixed.  Employment declined in Jonesboro, Little Rock, and Pine Bluff, but showed strong gains in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Hot Springs and Memphis.  Compared to a year ago, payroll employment was up in six metro areas, having fallen in Fort Smith and Pine Bluff.  Growth over the past 12 months has been particularly strong in Fayetteville and Jonesboro.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

As shown in the figure below, strong payroll employment growth in Fayetteville and Jonesboro continues a trend that has characterized the entire economic expansion, with the two northern corners of the state experiencing far more rapid growth than the rest of the region.  At the other extreme, employment in Pine Bluff has continued to decline.  At the end of 2015, Pine Bluff payrolls were down 17.5% from pre-recession levels.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics

Note:  The metro-area payroll data will be subject to the annual benchmark revision process, with revised numbers to be reported in mid-March.  Our estimates of the statewide employment revisions suggest that the updated data will show slower growth among at least some of the state’s metro areas, particularly for the second half of 2014.

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – December 2015

By , January 26, 2016 11:21 AM

The final pre-revision employment report for 2015 came out this morning, showing the Arkansas unemployment rate falling 2-tenths of a percent to 4.8% in December.   The number of employed rose by nearly 3,700 and the number of unemployed dropped by 2,200.   As a result, the size of the labor force increased by 1,500.  Over the past seven months, the size of the labor force has held fairly steady, with employment expanding by 11,540 and unemployment dropping by 11,230.  Over that time period, the unemployment rate has fallen by one percentage point, from 5.8% in May to 4.8% in December.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Employment
Nonfarm payroll employment expanded sharply in December, increasing by 8,900 from November (seasonally adjusted).  The November figure was also revised upward by 1,200 from the previously reported level.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Employment increases were recorded over a wide range of sectors, with a particularly strong gain in Leisure & Hospitality Services (+3,300).  Manufacturing employment expanded by 1,500, with gains reported in particular in food manufacturing.  Over the past 12 months, payroll employment has expanded by 19,300 — approximately 1.6%.

Today’s report was the final estimate of nonfarm payrolls before the annual benchmark revisions, which will be released on March 14.  Based on the more complete series of employment statistics from the Quarterly Census of Wages and Employment (QCEW) we are estimating that the net revision will show about 8,000 fewer jobs at the end of 2015 than current statistics are reporting.  Much of the downward revision to job growth will affect the latter part of 2014, with revisions to December 2014 employment to be approximately negative 6,000.  From that revised base, the benchmarked data for 2015 should show growth of around 17,000 jobs for 2015 (December over December), a growth rate of approximately 1.4%.

Sources:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute for Economic Advancement

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Institute for Economic Advancement

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

Arkansas Employment and Unemployment – November 2015

By , December 18, 2015 12:52 PM

The unemployment rate in Arkansas declined by one-tenth of a percent to 5.0% in November, matching the national average.  The press release from the Department of Workforce Services pointed out that the last time the Arkansas unemployment rate was this low was in April 2008 (when the U.S. unemployment rate was also 5.0%).

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

The household data showed that the number of unemployed declined by 1,968, while the number of employed edged up by 205 (resulting in a labor force decline of 1,763.)  Over the past six months, the number of employed Arkansans has increased by 9,443 while the number of unemployed has declined by 10,301.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)

Payroll Survey
In contrast to the recent employment trends from the household survey data, nonfarm payroll employment contracted by 2,200 jobs in November (seasonally adjusted).  The employment total for October was revised upward by 1,100 jobs, however, so the net change from September was a loss of only 1,300 jobs.  Compared to 6 months ago (May), payroll employment has increased by 4,200.  Over the past 12 months, it is up by 14,700.  While the trend in job growth remains positive, there is clearly a loss of momentum in recent months.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

From October to November, both Manufacturing and Construction were down by over 1,000 jobs.  Employment in construction typically declines this time of year, but the fact that the seasonally-adjusted change was negative implies a larger-than-usual decline in jobs.  Similarly, the seasonally-adjusted decline of 1,100 jobs in Retail Trade (along with the year-over-year decline) indicates that holiday hiring has not been as robust as usual or expected.  Sectors that added jobs in November included Professional & Business Services and Education & Health Services.  Those two “super-sectors” alone have increased by nearly 12,000 over the past twelve months, and have expanded by more than 46,000 jobs since the pre-recession date of December 2007.

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics (CES)

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*Seasonally adjusted data for Arkansas nonfarm payroll employment, reported in a format compatible with the monthly news release from the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, can be found hereTable-Seasonally Adjusted NFPE.

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