They’re Cooking the Unemployment Numbers

Have you noticed that during Republican administrations homelessness was always in the news? I know you have. There were daily reports and weekly specials. Are we to assume that we no longer have a homeless problem in America? Did you notice that during George H. W. Bush’s administration that the press harped on unemployment numbers everyday and how bad the economy was? It was constant.

English scientist Charles Babbage (1791–1871) understood that scientists were often guilty of manipulating evidence to add credibility to a theory. He described three types of misconduct: forging (the outright invention of data), trimming (the cosmetic ‘massaging’ of data, so as to display them to best advantage), and cooking (discreetly losing the data that were out of line or did not help the hypothesis).1

What’s true of scientists is doubly true of politicians and their support staff. In order to boost President Obama’s election prospects in November, the unemployment numbers are being forged, trimmed, and cooked.

For example, the Labor Department reported that 227,000 new jobs were added in February. The claim is being made that this is the third consecutive month of job creation. All the reports from the mainstream media are telling us that this means the economy has finally dug itself out of the recession hole. President Obama’s policies are working. He deserves another four years.

Another set of numbers reports that our trade deficit has skyrocketed by $4.3 billion in January to $52.6 billion. This number is an indicator that we are not creating the type of jobs that indicate long-term growth. Many of the new jobs are in the service industry.

Many of these new jobs are underemployment jobs. Some put underemployment at 18 percent. My business partner and I have done some hiring in the past two years. A number of people working for us made more in previous jobs.

Here’s another point to be made. People who no longer are looking for jobs are not counted in the unemployment numbers. This is why the number of unemployed persons, at 12.8 million, was essentially unchanged in February and held at 8.3 percent.

Where are these people? Did they all get an unexpected inheritance? Maybe they’re getting paid by lottery winners. I’m sure 81-year-old Louise White who just won $336 million is helping the no longer counted unemployed.

  1. Walter Gratzer, The Undergrowth of Science: Delusion, Self-Deception and Human Frailty (Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000), vii. []