By contrast, the payroll survey seeks information from 140,000 companies and government agencies â¿¿ and they employ roughly one-third of non-farm employees. The employers send forms to the Labor Department or fill out online surveys noting how many people they employ. They also provide wages, hours and other details.

Most Americans focus more on the unemployment rate, which comes from the household survey. But economists generally prefer the jobs figure from the payroll survey.

Economists note that the surveys tend to even out over time. Since the recession ended in June 2009, the payroll surveys have shown that employers have added 3.35 million jobs. The household surveys have shown that nearly 3.1 million more people said they found work.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform