Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Do (BLS) Birthers Need to Get a Life?

Every time I point to a strong a BLS employment number, I am sure to get comments and emails advising me that I am not taking into consideration the ability of the BLS to manipulate the number via the birth-death index.

Here's Ed Yardeni with an answer for those accosters (my bold):
Birthers need to get a life. Every month, critics of the Birth/Death adjustment claim that it is bogus, especially since it always seems to boost the employment figures, even during recessions. The adjustment is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to incorporate the impact of business births and deaths. Actual data are available with a minimum lag of nine months. The BLS reports that the actual net birth/death residual for April 2010 to March 2011 was approximately 12,000 below the forecasted amount used in the monthly estimates for the time period. This is a relatively tiny forecasting error.
Bottom line: I continue to believe that the BLS uses antiquated methods of data collection for both unemployment and prices. But, for the most part, those working at the BLS attempt to do the best with the tools they have and most certainly would let me know first if they suspected real manipulation of the numbers. I'm wired in a few ways.

That said, manipulation comes at the higher levels by those who do things like take gasoline and food out of the "core index". But, they are able to do this in broad daylight because mainstream media won't call them on it and will go along with the propaganda.

I use BLS data as confirming data of trends only, used that way the data is very helpful. I don't look for it for exact numbers, but just to confirm trends. Currently, the improving unemployment picture confirms other indicators indicating a climbing economy and stock market.

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