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Lies, damned lies, and statistics

February 4, 2012

[25th J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KBZZ 1270 AM Reno.]

Yesterday, unemployment stats were released by the Labor Department. According to them, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.3% last month. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

The government, and by that I mean the Obama Administration, is lying to us, and the amazing part is the sheer brass-balls audaciousness of that lie. They can’t hide the actual numbers behind the calculation so they know that people comfortable with numbers – people like me – will examine them and scope out the truth. But they don’t care: they have a president to get re-elected, that’s the main priority, and they assume most people are too lazy or too gullible to check those numbers.

It’s an evil trick to play. I ran into somebody at the grocery store yesterday who’s been looking for a job for a year and a half, and asked him how things are going.

“Worse than the last time I saw you,” he answered.

“You didn’t find anything yet?”

“No, I didn’t find anything, but they announced unemployment is down to 8.3, which is a good thing overall I guess, but it means other people are finding work... so apparently it’s just me.”

His depression was palpable. That’s what happens when the government puts out a false story. People believe it and measure themselves against it. The produce section at Scolari’s wasn’t a good place to explain how that 8.3% number was concocted and why it’s baloney, but I wrote a column about it December 16 titled “Unemployment statistics for dummies” and I can cover the most important points in about thirty seconds.

First of all, the unemployment rate has nothing to do with the number of people receiving unemployment compensation, a common misconception. The unemployment rate is arrived at by doing a survey. It’s called the Current Population Survey, and it’s no different and no more accurate than your average political poll which attempts to guess who will win the next election.

Second, they don’t call people on the telephone and ask if they’re unemployed – they ask them if they’re employed. They’re counting people with jobs, not people without jobs, and that’s an important difference because it means they calculate the number of unemployed... and once the government starts calculating they have a chance to finagle.

The Obama Administration’s finagling is skewing the classification of people in the survey who don’t answer “Yes, I’m employed.” Those people, the people who don’t answer yes, are increasingly marked down as not being members of the labor force. Here’s the crucial factoid: the labor force of the United States of America has always risen – always – until 2009 when Barack Obama became president. An odd coincidence.

The population of the United States, according to the Census Bureau, increases by 225,000 each month, which is 2.7 million people a year. So the population increased by 8 million since Barack Obama became president three years ago. Yet somehow, incredibly, miraculously, none of those 8 million joined the labor force, because the Labor Department claims the labor force is the same as it was on January 20, 2009, when he took the oath of office.

The level of dishonesty gets worse when you realize the United States is not a normal country. A big chunk of our population growth comes by way of immigration, which leans heavily toward people of working age. Demographers – not Labor Department bureaucrats but real demographers – figure the labor force is actually growing faster than our population, at about 250,000 per month, which means about 9 million people are missing from the official Labor Department stats.

Economists quickly recalculated yesterday’s numbers and the consensus is that real unemployment rate is about 11.5%, and I’m guessing it’s much higher than that. The 243,000 jobs added last month is less than the amount needed to stay even, and if you want a cold splash of reality that will shock you to your core, we need about one million new jobs every month to get the unemployment rate down where it belongs by the end of Obama’s four years.

The president loves to claim that he’s created 3 million jobs, but listen closely: at the end of 2008, the Labor Department says there were 143 million people with jobs. Now, three years later, there are 141 million people with jobs – nearly 2 million fewer jobs even though 9 million more people want them.

Guess what: you can’t have lower unemployment at the same time you have fewer jobs.

That's... today’s dose of common sense..

"Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.’" – Mark Twain

"History is a set of lies agreed upon." – Napoleon Bonaparte

From Reno, Nevada, USA       

April 11, 2012 - Here's yet another way for Obama to skew the employment numbers. He recently passed the United States Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011 (H.R. 2832/Public Law No.: 112-040) which includes an amendment, effective April 21, 2012, which requires employees returning after a separation of at least 60 consecutive days to once again be considered a New Hire.
Section 253 states, "Amends the SSA to require each employer to report to a State Depository of New Hires certain information on employees the employer has rehired after at least a 60-day separation."
Conveniently, he has made this effective just as seasonal businesses are starting to bring their laid-off employees back to work and, I'm sure, to aid in his re-election.
Jim, Keep up the great work. Can't wait to have you back in Michigan! - Patti C., Michigan

February 6, 2012 - I wish you would have been this concerned when we had the worst president ever ..bush. in office. I appreciate all the predjudice and hate for its galvanizing our President's support. - Daryl M., Kansas

February 5, 2012 - go f___k yourdelf - Brad D., Illinois
J.P. replies: Nice spelling.

February 5, 2012 - You're in good company talking about Obama lying his way to a better unemployment rate. Here's what The Washington Times had to say: "EDITORIAL: Obama’s bogus jobs data." I think an investigation is a good idea. Our own government shouldn't be allowed to lie to us. If that's not a crime, what is? As for the election, I think people will decide for themselves whether Obama is telling the truth. You can't drive by all the empty storefronts and foreclosed homes and see all the men without jobs and seriously think the economy is improving. - Skeptical American, California

February 5, 2012 - Amen. Yes... 1.4 million people actually left the work force during this month and another 1.2 million jobs were actually lost. So to say that 200,000+ jobs were created during this time is not a NET gain but an astronomically huge loss! - Mary, Michigan

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