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Aside from confirming that U.S. employment is continuing its long slog back from its recessionary depths, this morning’s Labor Department jobs report provided a valuable reminder that words can mislead as well as illuminate. The example I have in mind concerns government data-meisters’ definition of “private sector.”

As I wrote earlier in the economic recovery, this definition problematically includes industries like health care services that depend heavily on huge government subsidies. So if we want the most accurate gauge of private employment’s health because we assume (rightly) that jobs mainly generated by market forces are more sustainable and productive than jobs largely generated by politicians, we’ll need to distinguish between private sector jobs that in many respects really aren’t, and the real McCoys.

During that early recovery period, this distinction was crucial, because job-creation in this subsidized private sector actually represented most total private sector job creation. That percentage dropped off significantly soon afterwards, but today’s October jobs report confirms that its importance is trending up again.

According to the official definition, net new private sector employment grew by 209,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis over September levels. (This number will be revised at least twice more.) But 41,000 of those jobs – 19.62 percent – came in healthcare services, private educational services, and social assistance. Levels of demand in all these areas are fueled big-time by public spending – which means that employment levels are, too.

The revised September data (which will be revised again) show that subsidized private sector job creation didn’t figure quite as prominently in overall private sector job creation. The share was just 17.62 percent. But in August (where the statistics are final, for now), this share was 25 percent.

The trend becomes clearer upon examining the numbers going back to the beginning of 2013. For the first ten months of last year, total private sector job creation averaged 200,700 per month according to the official definition of private sector. Subsidized private sector job creation per month averaged 30,700. So 15.30 percent of those private sector jobs owed heavily to the public sector.

For the first ten months of this year, officially recorded private sector job creation has averaged 222,500 per month. But the share of those jobs from the subsidized private sector rose to 18.79 percent (41,800 monthly on average).

Stripping out the subsidized private sector also puts genuine private sector job creation in a significantly new light. Its monthly average from January through October, 2013 was 170,000, not the 200,700 officially reported. For the first ten months of this year, it’s 180,700 instead of 222,500. Indeed, so far in 2014, real private sector job creation has topped the 200,000 level in only three of the ten months for which data is available, not in nine of those ten months.

But maybe the best perspective comes from a longer-term view. In December, 2007, when the last recession began, the subsidized private sector represented 16.26 percent of the officially designated private sector. By February, 2010, when official private sector employment bottomed out (months after the recession’s end the previous June), the subsidized private sector’s share had risen to 18.43 percent. As of this October, that share is down, but only to 18.38 percent.

So during the recovery, if you value real private sector employment over the other kinds, you’ll be somewhat heartened that it’s made a comeback. But you’ll also be concerned that, in absolute terms, this portion of the workforce is still actually smaller in absolute terms (96.126 million) than at the recession’s onset (97.113 million).