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I read the job report article posted on Yahoo Finance this Friday. Mysteriously, the unemployment rate dropped to below 8%.

Like pretty much every poster who commented on Yahoo Finance, my reply, based on gut feelings and anecdotal evidence, was: this is fake, it is a lie, it is data manipulation. In December they will make a correction, or maybe not, if we start living in a Soviet-like political system.

I don't have any political views, I have never voted and will never do, but I believe this job report raises an interesting question:

Was this propaganda? And how do you detect propaganda from genuine news? What kind of algorithms would work to detect propaganda?

What made the job report highly suspicious, in my own opinion, is

  • Very close to the presidential election
  • Some government statisticians will lose their job if Obama is not re-elected, when government is downsized
  • Less than 150K new hires can't explain for this unemployment rate improvement...
  • Unless many people left the work force, became homeless, criminal or handicapped...
  • Or maybe retired?
  • And what kind of jobs did the few lucky September hires secured?

What do you think?

Related articleHealthcare propaganda

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I have never voted and will never do

Therein lies the biggest problem. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

I was intrigued by the title of this post (and any post by Vincent is of course worth a look!), though I don't follow US official statistics, and am only an interested outsider in US politics.  On the whole, I am quite ready to believe that governments lie to their people any time it's convenient!  However, a little digging around on the present topic turned up this webpage with comments by Paul Krugman on what seems to have turned into a big & noisy debate in the US.  I quote part of his comments, preceded by the website's comment:

" But Krugman argues that the idea the figures in the jobs report can be played with and cooked for political gain is pure “nonsense.”  

Job numbers are prepared by professional civil servants, at an agency that currently has no political appointees. ...Furthermore, the methods the bureau uses are public — and anyone familiar with the data understands that they are “noisy,” that especially good (or bad) months will be reported now and then as a simple consequence of statistical randomness. And that in turn means that you shouldn’t put much weight on any one month’s report."  (This paragraph is a direct quote from Krugman)

That sounds quite plausible to me (making due allowance for Mr. Krugman's well-known brusqueness!)- but I suppose only someone very familiar with other evidence for or against can say whether the number being quoted is especially suspect.

The problem is not the number it is how it is calculated. The same fundamental problem exists with how CPI is calculated. The current formula does not take into account those who are discouraged workers (those that have given up looking) nor does it take into account those that are underemployed (a person with a college degree flipping burgers because that's all they could find) it simply only looks at those on payroll, it does not matter if the person is a full time employee or only working 8 hours a week, they for all intensive purposes are employed.


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