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A few days ago, former GE CEO Jack Welch made a contreversial accusation/claim that the September 2012 jobs report was manipulated by the Obama administration in an attempt to portray the economy in a good light for the upcoming election. Here is the actual quote:

"Unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything…can't debate so change numbers,"

Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/05/us-usa-economy-jackwelch-idUSBRE8941CR20121005

After this claim was made, right wing pundits started to report it as fact as well and further contributed to the claim.

While proving this either way may be difficult, is at least plausible that any member of the executive branch could have manipulated these job reports in anyway?

  • Please, please use the comment section only to suggest improvements to the question. Keep any political opinions on the matter for the Skeptics Chat! :-) – Sklivvz Oct 11 '12 at 19:54
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It depends on what numbers you are interested in. There are two numbers that are common to use:

Unemployment number and workforce participation, the first one went down but the latter one also went down.

Unemployment number: This is the number most commonly used and the definition varies what constitutes "unemployed" from country to country. In the US the current number is 7.8% (September 2012), in August it was 8,1% and 8.3% in July.

But in the same time "The U.S. labor force contracted by 368,000 in August 2012 compared to the previous month, reaching 154.6 million. The share of the working-age population, 16 years old and over, that was currently employed or unemployed (i.e., the labor force participation rate) was 63.5%".

So to be clear; to be able to get a lower Unemployment number, 368,000 people had to stop looking for jobs. All in all this is a bad sign for the US economy.

But since this is the official U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counts, and has not changed the last few months, the answer must be: No, the current administration did not manipulate the numbers. They told the truth but not the whole truth.

Sources:

http://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=LN_cpsbref3

http://www.ilo.org/washington/ilo-and-the-united-states/spot-light-on-the-us-labor-market/recent-us-labor-market-data/lang--en/index.htm

  • I have been thinking more about this. The administration has apparently urged big companies not to fire people until after the election. This claim changes things and need to be looked into. – Fredrik Oct 22 '12 at 12:43

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