Bernie Nunez is tired of hearing that the job market is better than it looks. As a freelance photographer from New York, he is one of the thousands of workers in the U.S. currently considered self-employed. Although Nunez is working -- his photographs can be seen on SportsShooter.com and in various publications -- he is not working at full potential. What's more, he is forced to pay his own health insurance and take unpaid vacations, all while saving for retirement. "I've been hearing for a while about the fact that the jobs picture is brighter than statistics because we are all working in our own businesses," he wrote in an email. "Bull!" For months now, a number of economists have been saying that the payroll data issued by the Labor Department understate the strength in the job market, because they miss the growth in self-employed workers. Indeed, Treasury Secretary John Snow has repeated this claim in interviews with journalists. Take a look at the Labor Department's separately compiled household survey, he says, and the job situation seems a whole lot better. Since the economic expansion began in December 2001, more than 2 million jobs have been created, according to the government's household survey. In contrast, the payroll survey shows that 718,000 jobs have been shed. In compiling the household data, the Labor Department calls about 60,000 homes, and it's from this that the unemployment rate is computed. The jobless rate has fallen to 5.6% from 6.3% in June, but partly because thousands of workers have dropped out of the labor force. The government contacts 400,000 businesses to compile the payroll data. One of the problems with calling people directly is that they're not always going to be honest, and some won't admit to being unemployed. "A friend of mine is no longer employed, but you ask him if he's unemployed and he'll tell you no," Nunez said. "He has a Web site and is a blogger. Does he make a nickel? No. But count him as employed."