I HOPE you don't teach math. Simple question, if 114,000 jobs were created and you need a little over 200,000 to remain static how does the unemployment rate drop .3%? and actually be a positive thing??? Lies, DAMN lies and statistics. This was all rhetorical, I don't want you to make a fool of yourself.The jobs numbers truther movement
By: Patrick Reis
October 5, 2012 03:05 PM EDT
A cadre of conservatives from Jack Welch to Allen West are crying conspiracy over Friday’s good economic news, accusing the White House of cooking the books to boost President Barack Obama’s prospects for reelection.
The word from Republicans who have worked with the jobs numbers before? Bunk.
“The numbers are put together by trained professionals and in a process that keeps politicians from interfering,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and a chief economic adviser to former President George W. Bush. “Any sort of suggestion to the contrary is wrong.”
Former Bush administration spokesman Tony Fratto took to Twitter to say: “Stop with the dumb conspiracy theories. Good grief.”
The Labor Department on Friday reported unemployment fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest level of Obama’s presidency.
That news — coming weeks before the election and days after Obama’s disappointing debate performance — was too good and too timely for some Republicans to believe.
“Somehow by manipulation of data we are all of a sudden below 8 percent unemployment, a month from the presidential election,” Florida Republican Rep. Allen West wrote on Facebook. “This is Orwellian to say the least and representative of Saul Alinsky tactics from the book ‘Rules for Radicals’ — a must read for all who want to know how the left strategize.”
Welch, the former head of General Electric lauded for his leadership skills, leveled his accusations on Twitter, joined by a smattering of conservative bloggers and pundits.
“Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers,” Welch tweeted.
Then Fox News pounced on the conspiracy, leading its website with the headline “JOBLESS RATE DIPS UNDER 8%, BUT IS THE NUMBER REAL?”
Friday afternoon Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) got in on the act, tweeting, “Not that I'm skeptical about today's unemployment report, but I bet they'd figure a way to hit 6.0 if we extended the election by 30 days.”
Welch didn’t back away from his accusation later in the day telling the Wall Street Journal: “I wasn’t kidding.”
Later Friday on CNN he said he should have added a “question mark” to his initial tweeted accusations, but said: “I’m not backing away, I’m not backing away from anything.”
The monthly jobs report produces a duo of headline numbers: a payroll jobs number and the rate of unemployment.
Friday’s flap — and Welch’s skepticism — mostly revolves around the drop in the unemployment rate from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent.
The unemployment rate is measured separately from the headline job number, the 114,000 reported Friday, and uses an alternate count of jobs that comes from a survey of households.
That household survey measured 873,000 jobs — way above the payroll jobs number result of 114,000, which comes from a survey of employers.
That gap drew the raised eyebrow from Welch.
“The economy doesn’t feel like it added 873,000 jobs in September,” he told the Journal. “There are a number of things here that are open to discussion.”
But economists say the gap between the payroll and household jobs count does not suggest foul play, but is rather a product of the statistical difficulty of counting jobs in a 300 million-person economy.
(Also on POLITICO: Mitt Romney drops '8 percent' line)
In July, for instance, the two surveys were nearly 400,000 jobs apart, this time with the payroll survey showing much greater growth than the tally used to compute the unemployment rate.
How they get the numbers
A look at the process used to get the numbers — as well as a bit of recent history — suggests the conspiracy claims belong in the same category as questions about Obama’s birth certificate.
The national unemployment rate is calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a nonpartisan agency composed of career economists and statisticians that currently employees zero political appointees.
The agency is typically directed by an appointee — the only appointed position in the entire organization — but that seat has sat vacant since Bush-pick Keith Hall left in January when his term expired.
The September figure came from a method identical to the one the bureau used to calculate previous months, said agency spokesman Gary Steinberg.
The figure always comes out on the first Friday of the month, and it is kept private from the White House until the evening before.
And even if the Obama administration has somehow been manipulating employment figures in a bid to gain an advantage, it has been doing a terrible job.
Friday’s jobs report noted that the July and August reports had underestimated job growth by a combined total of nearly 50,000 jobs.
And during a stretch from June 2011 to March 2012, every one of the bureau’s initial jobs report fell far short of its final estimate. The jobs figures are refined to reflect new information following the initial report, but by the time the final number comes out, the media has moved on.
Such was the case last summer, when Republicans dubbed Obama “President Zero” after the initial August report showed there had been no job growth. The final jobs figure for the month: 104,000.
But just because the numbers are honest, doesn’t mean they’re accurate.
The unemployment figure comes from a survey of 60,000 households that seeks to compare how many people have jobs with how many people are unsuccessfully looking for work.
That 60,000 is a large haul but a pittance when used to measure a nation of 300 million. Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publicly admits that they could be off by as much as 400,000 jobs one way or another.
Economists and sober-minded politicos said that the conspiracy theories are neither surprising nor new.
“This comes up all the time,” said Holtz-Eakin, who was also a top adviser to the McCain campaign in 2008. “This happened when I was in the Bush administration and it happens now.”
Seung Min Kim and MJ Lee contributed to this report.
This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 3:02 p.m. on October 5, 2012.