It looks like this is an October Surprise on behalf of Team Obama. The word out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics today is that jobs have increased by 114,000 in September, which isn’t even close to keeping up with population growth and that the unemployment number fell to 7.8%. However, there were also revisions to the previous two months which increased job numbers to a total of 84,000 (August was adjusted to add 40,000 jobs, while July added 44,000), which has some pundits questioning the validity of the numbers.
Wages rose in September. And more people started looking for work.
The revisions show employers added 146,000 jobs per month from July through September, up from 67,000 in the previous three months.
The 7.8 percent unemployment rate for September matches the rate in January 2009, when Obama took office. In the months after Obama’s inauguration, the rate rose sharply and had topped 8 percent for 43 straight months.
Obviously these number changes come at a critical point in the election cycle. Obama just came off a horrible debate performance and now all of a sudden numbers are drastically altered for the past two months and the unemployment numbers are at a 44 month low. This led CNBC to ask Labor Secretary Hilda Solis about the suspicious numbers and whether the Obama administration would have skewed the numbers to help Obama’s re-election prospects. Here’s the breakdown of the conversation:
CNBC: We’re getting bombarded by people who do not believe the number. They believe this number was fixed and typed to coincide with Election Day. What do you say to them?…I’ll rephrase the question. A lot of people do not believe the 7.8 number. They believe that somehow BLS fixed this to coincide with the election cycle. What is labor’s response?
Solis: You know, I’m insulted when I hear that because we have a very professional, civil service organization where you have top, top economists that work at the BLS. They’ve been doing these calculations. These are — these are our best trained and best-skilled individuals working in the BLS, and it’s really ludicrous to hear that kind of statement, and I say that because just look at the — we have to look at what happens across the board, not just in one month, but look what happened in the last two months. We also saw revisions there upwards of 86,000 additional jobs added and this brings us now to 5.2 million private sector jobs across the board, we saw 104 private sector jobs created….
CNBC: Before I let you go, you say skepticism over the numbers are ludicrous. You say you’re insulted. Is there a danger, you believe, when large sections was country don’t believe the data. Not that it’s ever been considered gospel, but when you have disbelief how much danger is embedded in that?
Solis: I will tell you that we look at each report differently. We just saw revisions for the last two months and this happens. I mean, these are estimates that obviously, the BLS puts out. They do the best calculation, using the best measurements and tools and we’ve been using them for the past 70 years. We haven’t changed anything and the information that I received is given to me by our professional, civil service staff in the BLS.
She’s insulted? Really? Well that is what happens when you work in an administration that has been caught in lie after lie and fudging the numbers is not beyond the realm of possibility here.
What is most interesting is the dramatic drop in unemployment numbers in the governement sector. The numbers have gone from 5.7% in July to 5.15% in August to 4.3% in September! It seems government is the problem here as they are putting more people to work at higher wages an a bigger burden on taxpayers than the private sector is.
Interestingly enough the US Postal Service, whose employees are considered to be federal workers, employed 610,000 in July, 609,000 in August and 606,900 in September. Yet, they have defaulted on pre-payments of over $5 billion for future health benefits for two consecutive months!
Note that Solis describes the 86,000 upward revision as if it were an increase in private sector jobs, though in fact the increase came entirely from revisions to public sector payrolls by cash-strapped federal and state governments. Instead of shedding jobs, as previously claimed, governments have been adding jobs.