The September jobs report, which revealed a surprising drop in the unemployment rate, immediately provoked conspiracy theories among the Obama administration’s critics. Former General Electric chief Jack Welch and FOX NEWS, paragons of skewed and biased opinions, have added conspiracy and misinformation to their proud resumes.
This past Friday, October 5th, and kicked off the conspiracy speculation with an immediate post-release post on his Twitter account: “these Chicago guys will do anything. can’t debate so change numbers,” implying that the Obama administration had done what no other administration has ever been able to do, (including Richard WATERGATE Nixon, who had posited that “those damn Jews over at BLS were jimmying the employment numbers to make him look bad”) —artificially inflate the figures.
Unemployment in September dropped to a four-year low while job creation reported a modest gain and the right-wing nut jobs just could not handle it like decent folk…because they aren’t decent folk.
Welch’s statement was quickly dismissed, by virtually even NON-FOX economist, political contributor, or business publication in America… even provoking a statement by a former Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner, and there is no evidence that the numbers were tainted.
These Idiots Should Not be Given Credence
But here’s where the “expert” analysis of Jack-the-senile-old-fool Welch, or Joe-the-know-it-all Scarborough completely blew the analysis and reporting, either out of wishful thinking, stupidity, or just plain ignorance. Everything I saw or heard went something like this:
- “If not for jobless workers giving up the search for work, the unemployment rate would have gone up. So the unemployment rate going from 8.3 percent to 8.1percent is actually not very positive for the President’s policies.”
- “Well my gosh, isn’t a shrinking unemployment rate a good thing?”, we’re supposed to ask.
- Every “expert” answer? “Because 368,000 people just dropped out of the pool of people looking for work! They just gave up and decided to live on air and sunshine; or worse, they just decided to live on some sort of government assistance that’s coming out of MY tax dollars; they’re just lazy!!” [insert smug David Gregory, Joe Scarborough, or George Will smirk here]
Scarborough, Welch and the geniuses at FOX NOISE kept repeating that unemployed Americans simply threw their hands into the air, gave up and decided they would live by mooching off of other Americans. They HOPED that the report was wrong and that more Americans were out of work than really were.
Here’s what sane people realize about the participation rates in the unemployed numbers reflect from two of the most disparate sources available—the Pew Resource Center and uber-conservative Newsmax.com. Both report that on average, 10,000 Americans retire every day. That’s on average. So August should have had somewhere either slightly north or south of 310,000 retiring normally. Given that a disproportionate number of older Americans have been unable to find full-time work, a conservative estimate for unemployed leaving the job hunt and over 62 years old would be, let’s say 186,000 or 60 percent of the total 310,000 per month that retire regardless of employment status.
Additionally, another 20,000 -25,000 Americans looking for full-time work accept a part-time job every month, sometimes multiple part-time jobs, which removes them from the data pool. Alright, let’s be fair and use 22,000.
Then there are people who become self-employed. According to conservative publication, The Fiscal Times economics journal, the number of people that become self-employed has increased by 200,000 for the same period in 2011. Their estimate is that 25,000 Americans per month have stopped looking for wages work this year and started their own businesses. This group runs the gamut from engineering consultants, to online tutoring, to landscapers to cupcake bakers.
Simple conservative arithmetic in just those three categories produces a result of 357,000 Americans leaving the full-time job hunt each month. Maybe, FOX NOISE, Scarborough and Welch, et al, should have thought that even more decided that going back to school was the answer, or God-forbid died! 2.5 million adults DIE EACH YEAR!! If only a tiny fraction of those were looking for work, that another 10,000-15,000 people leaving the unemployed rolls just from dying. But these “expert” pundits, and reporters, or journalists, or dipwad Republican politicians just ASSUMED they gave up and thought they’d go sleep on a grate somewhere, or Romney’s answer to everything, “borrow money from your mom or dad”.
Good lord. How these people’s opinions even matter is the real crime here.
Facts: A Republican Anathema
But the speculation raises a broader question: How does the Bureau of Labor Statistics derive these numbers? How accurate is that process? And exactly how susceptible is it to tampering?
The jobs report is actually a compilation of two different surveys: the Current Population Survey, which is commonly dubbed the “household survey,” and the Current Economic Statistics, or the “employer survey.” The household survey produces the unemployment rate — 7.8 percent in September — and the employer survey produces the “nonfarm payrolls” number, which is the most common measure of jobs gained and reached (14,000 last month).
The monthly population survey is conducted by the Bureau of Labor of Statistics and the Census Bureau. In it, the government asks survey takers how many people in their household have worked (or were temporarily absent from the workforce) in the past week; how many have actively looked for work in the past month but did not work; and how many neither looked for work nor worked.
The population survey includes interviews with about 66,000 households. Every month, 25 percent of the sample is changed and the response rate is very high — usually more than 90 percent. By contrast, opinion polls have a response rate of about 9 percent, and contain samples a fraction of that size.
The employer survey is also conducted by the BLS, which surveys 141,000 employers, private and public, at 486,000 work sites and asks for the number of employees, hours worked and earnings.
The BLS process for both surveys is extremely confidential. Economists are put on an eight-day security lockdown in advance of the report, signing confidentiality agreements every morning. These are the security measures in effect:
- The computers they use feature heavy encryption.
- Data are placed in a safe even for bathroom breaks.
- The Wednesday before the release, the population data arrive, followed by the employment survey data a few days later.
- On the day before the release, three copies of the report and a CD-ROM are placed in a safe and taken to downtown Washington from the secure location where they were prepared and presented to the few White House officials — President Obama, Vice President Biden, a handful of top government economists along with the Secretary of Labor.
- Journalists are given access to the information 30 minutes before release but have to connect to a secure network that prevents them from sending out the data ahead of the official release.
The BLS is a nonpartisan agency whose commissioners span administrations and political parties. The agency is headed by Jack Galvin, a career employee who ran the employment and unemployment statistics division from 1998 to 2011 and has held a variety of positions there since 1978. Prior to Galvin, Keith Hall led the agency from 2008 to 2012, following career positions at the Council of Economic Advisors and the International Trade Commission. Janet Norwood served as commissioner from 1979 to 1991, spanning the Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, while her predecessor Julius Shiskin headed it under Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Carter.
Of course paranoid schizophrenics, like Richard M. Nixon, infamously asked his aide Fred Malek to count the number of Jews working in BLS, based on his delusion that Jewish liberals were trying to sabotage him through bad jobs numbers.
I think the organizations run by Jack Welch should be investigated for fraud and FOX Noise stripped of its right to be called a news organization.
Those are the ACTUAL sources of skewed and unreliable information.