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View Diary: Fox & Friends suggest the Obama administration is 'cooking the books' on jobless numbers (111 comments)

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  •  Just because Fox News says (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, coffeetalk

    that they're "cooking the books" doesn't mean that they're not cooking the books.

    There has been plenty of discussion, and criticism, of the January "unemployment" figures (including the simple disappearance of 1.2 million job seekers, which sure helps the "unemployment" number) from other substantially more credible sources.  It's discussed in more detail here:

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 10:59:17 AM PST

    •  That's not a discussion. That's a presentation... (33+ / 0-)

      ...of one side of an argument that actually HAS been discussed.

      No, that's not a typo: 1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force in one month!

      No, it's the result of the annual benchmark revisions, which, this year, includes a reworking of past numbers based on a new Census.

      The problem with the idea that the BLS is "cooking the books," whether you buy Zero Hedge's views, or Shadow Stats, is that there is transparency. The bureau shows these numbers every month. You can call statisticians there and ask then how they obtained the numbers they got, why, for instance, they applied a certain formula to get a seasonal adjustment. They'll tell you. You may not like the answer. You may say it skews things.

      You can also challenge the methodology for putting people into or out of the labor pool, a challenge I've often made myself, starting years ago when just a handful of bloggers were saying, what about U6? There are legit concerns about what the "official" unemployment rate shows and doesn't, as I noted at the end of my diary on the jobs report Friday.

      But that's not what Fox and Zero Hedge and Shadow Stats are claiming, but something nefarious.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 11:17:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "the annual benchmark revisions" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        "moving the goalposts"

        "cooking the books"

        Sounds more like "semantics" then whether more or fewer of the (potential) workers who need them are getting decent jobs.  If the changing "unemployment" figure is not accurately representing the chance of an average worker finding a decent paying job does it matter what we call it?

        I'd settle for "wrong" . . .

        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 11:39:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The benchmark revisions are made... (14+ / 0-)

          ...because it's impossible for the BLS (or anybody else) to get an exact handle on these numbers in real time.

          What's interesting is the claim by the critics that the figures are cooked (altered, in other words), but all their criticism is based on figures they GET from the BLS.

          Some people like to use the non-seasonally adjusted numbers for jobs instead of the seasonally adjusted ones because they view the seasonally adjusted ones as "fake." Fine. But it's interesting that these only get trumpeted in those periods when the NSA numbers are notoriously weak (in January-February and summers) and not when they are strong October-November and late spring.

          As for "getting decent jobs," it's true that the media don't present this very well, but if you look deeper into the BLS figures, you can discover this information. And they do special reports on what kind of jobs are looking good and what kind aren't periodically.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 11:50:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  "if you look deeper into the BLS figures" (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, for the most part the accurate figures are there.  The "problem" is that the "executive summary", ie the publicly touted "unemployment" figure, is not a very good representation of what one finds when one looks at the "deeper" figures.  In this case it appears to be skewed in a "rose colored glasses" direction that unfortunately does lend some support to the charge of "political" . . .

            Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

            by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 12:49:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  where does this come from (0+ / 0-)

        If you look up 'Civilian labor force' on, you get 154.395 million.   This is the largest number since July 2009[the all time high seems to be 154.875m in 10/2008], and about 508,000 more than December 2011 though there is a warning that the numbers aren't directly comparable.  So where does the claim that 1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force even come from?  Separately the labor force participation percentage ticked down from 64% to 63.7%, but even if you take 0.3%*154million you only get 462 thousand.  I have no idea if that is even a valid calculation, but it is still a far cry from 1.2 million.

        Personally, I think if you were really cooking the books you'd do it the other way.  Artificially increase the labor force number so that there is more give in the numbers for subsequent months and the rate decreases more gradually.  As it is I worry that we could add 200,000 jobs in February and still see U3 tick up as the labor force bounces back.

    •  Just because I say the moon's made of green cheese (8+ / 0-)

      doesn't mean that it isn't. Who could argue with such stellar logic?

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 11:27:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course they are "cooking the books"... (6+ / 0-)

      since it would be soooo easy to do.  I mean, its not like they are required to provide background details, methodology, statistical information or data, right?

      Its not like the media like Fox, etc are going to check this data to make sure it jives, right?

      “Tax and Spend” I can understand. I can even understand “Borrow and Spend”. But “Borrow and Give Tax Cuts to Billionaires”? That I have a problem with.

      by LiberalCanuck on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 11:59:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  A good summation of the revisions (7+ / 0-)

      can be found here  A shameless plug I know, but since Calculated Risk, Barry Ritholtz, Media Matters, and Think Progress all picked it up, it should be a good starting point.

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