Saturday, June 6, 2020

Was the Just Released Good Unemployment Number Cooked by the Trump Administration?

Paul Krugman

The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman suggested yesterday in a series of tweets that the strong May jobs report released on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics may have been cooked by the Trump administration. Jobs surged by 2.5 million, according to the BLS report.

The tweets:
Well, the BLS reports a GAIN in jobs and a FALL in unemployment, which almost nobody saw coming. Maybe it's true, and the BLS is definitely doing its best, but you do have to wonder what's going on. 1/

I've been through a number of episodes over the years in which official numbers tell a story at odds with what more informal evidence suggests; often it turns out that there was something quirky (NOT fraudulent) about the official numbers. 2/

This being the Trump era, you can't completely discount the possibility that they've gotten to the BLS, but it's much more likely that the models used to produce these numbers — they aren't really raw data — have gone haywire in a time of pandemic 3/
Krugman knows better than this. The BLS is as anti-Trump as the rest of Washington D.C.

If top-level BLS officials attempted to massage the numbers, there would have been leaks out of the BLS as to the truth. Krugman was just playing dishonest leftie politics with the tweets. It is how the left plays the game.

But Krugman stepped on a lot of lefties in the BLS and he got immediate blowback from the Swiss Army guards of the BLS.

 Jason Furman, who was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, said that Krugman should "100% discount the possibility that Trump got to the BLS," adding, "BLS has 2,400 career staff of enormous integrity and one political appointee with no scope to change this number."

Erica Groshen, a former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, agreed, noting that there were "no red flags" in the data.

"As former BLS Commissioner, I see no red flags. And, knowing the processes used and integrity of BLS staff, I think it very unlikely. Commissioners see no number before it's final. If I hear anything different, I'll trumpet it loudly," she wrote.

Krugman later cracked under the pressure, went to his knees, and apologized in a second series of tweets for his absurd allegation (and managed to take credit for forecasting the increase in jobs!):
Getting a lot of outraged pushback over even allowing the possibility of something amiss at BLS. I was just covering myself, because so many weird things have happened lately. But I apologize for any suggestion that a highly professional agency might have been corrupted. 1/
And as I look at the data, I'm starting to believe that the modest job gains may well have been real, not an artifact of the models. I was already on record saying that predictions of a huge job loss didn't look right 2/



  1. If anything they would cook the numbers in a defense of governors in democrat controlled states. It would be look, see, it's not so bad type of thing. There's no reason to do it for Trump.

  2. I still find it amazing that statists can, with a straight face, allege that the other tribe is corrupt but theirs is always pristine. They really have no self-awareness.

  3. Is the BLS ever independently audited?