Can we necessarily believe Bush's new jobs claim?

According to the Administration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says we generated 308,000 new jobs in March.

But with Dubya’s record of lying, is there a likelihood that he’s exaggerating the numbers, or maybe even flat out lying?

It isn’t as if Dubya’s above manipulating facts to suit his own agenda. We found out the true cost of his Medicare program from a whistleblower.

The lies go on and on and on.

Go ahead, call it sour grapes, but I think only a retard would accept as fact, anything that comes out of this WH.

So we should all go the other extreme and never believe anything that comes out of the white house?

Oh, and I think that childish name calling is only allowed in the Pit.

Were those new jobs as “security contractors” in Iraq?

Is that job gain net or gross?

In what industries? It is spring, y’know, and seasonal industries are kicking into high gear.

Statistics alone don’t say anything. You need to know what the statistics are, what they are not, how they were gathered, etc etc. On the other hand, I wouldn’t put it beyond this administration to lie or manipulate numbers.

Until such “facts” are corroborated, it might well be a good idea.

Well, from what I understand, the White House doesn’t make up the numbers. Bush is using the numbers that are given to him. And besides, most democrats are accepting the numbers as real, so I don’t think that they, in and of themselves are false. Now as to what’s going on behind the numbers, if it’s a trend or not, if they’re being artificially inflated or not, if Bush is responsible for the rise in employment or not, these things are certainly debatable (and I’m not knowledgeable enough to debate them), but the numbers in and of themselves probably aren’t that debatable.

I do know that a chunk of the jobs were workers returning to their jobs when the grocery strike in CA ended.

What I don’t get is the revising up of jobs created in Jan and Feb.

They find those on their bedside table or what?

The data is trustworthy, but not necessarily correct (and certainly not exactly correct – see below). BLS has a well-deserved reputation for independence and it is, at absolute best, churlish to suggest that they are subject to manipulation without evidence to the contrary. If that makes me, every economist on Wall Street, CEOs Democratic and Republican policymaers and others “retards” (whatever the fuck that means), so be it. If the OP would care to repeat the insult in the Pit, perhaps we can find some good words in response.

As to the “not necessarily correct” part, keep in mind that the employment data, and in particular the payroll adds data, is the result of a survey. A pretty darn good survey, IMO, but a survey nonetheless. Which means that there’s not only the chance of data error (the actual results falling outside the designated confidence intervals), but also question error – does the survey universe accurately reflect the constantly-changing economy, etc.? Historically, it’s pretty good, but of course it’s not exact. In particular, some informed people believe BLS falls a little behind during times of large economic change as in the incipient phases of expansion and contraction (though to my knowledge no one’s gone and proved it; the grad school paper of a lifetime is available for the right data nut). But even those observers grant that BLS gets it directionally right and within a degree of magnitude – close enough for policy decisions if one were inclined to made them off of that data.

Some responses to questions:

Zagadka asks where are these jobs, what about seasons, etc.? Well, they’re all in the United States. So no to your question which I’m going to treat as merely cynical and not macabre. You can see a summary of the industries which picked up employment here. It’s pretty broad based across industries, as were the not-adds in the prior few months, which is a little weird (not too weird). More often, one or a couple sectors “lead the way” in employment. It’ll be interesting how the data trends out over time.

That particular data is “adjusted” to account for seasonality. Other data in the same release are not; you can catch which ones are and aren’t in the link above. Also, wonks have vigorous arguments about how well the BLS adjusts seasonally, but again, there’s broad agreement that they’re directionally correct and pretty close.

Reeder asks (or asks by way of saying) what about the grocery workers, and what about the revisions?

The grocery workers were about 19,000 of the job adds. I think that’s gross; that any scabs laid off as a result of the strike settlement would be counted as subtracts separately. But I’m not confident of that and am certainly willing to receive correction on that point.

The revisions occur all of the time because of how they gather the data. Without going into too much detail, the monthly report reflects about 65 percent of the data – there’s still BLS guys working the phones when the report is released. The first revision is when about 80 percent of the data is gathered, etc. This kind of ties into what I said above about people’s belief regarding BLS and inflection points in the economy, but it’s also a normal part of the process. They weren’t conspiring to make Bush look bad in January and February with a correctional footnote which would be mostly ignored later on, for example. :wink:

As should be apparent, I’ve got pretty high regard for the folks at BLS. I hope this little ditty has helped clarify some of the issue regarding the data they produce.

So let me get this straight. You people believe, and cite, the Bureau of Labor Statistics when you argue that unemployment is too high, or about how many jobs have been “lost” during the Bush Administration, but suddenly, when the numbers turn positive, the BLS is lying? Right…

Once again, ignorance is vanquished. I indeed being cynical in my questions, though my statement about the sources of the statistics was 100% serious. Having browsed over the numbers (and your informative post), they do appear rather promising. Thank you very much for the link. My questions were raised mainly because the OP used the loosely defined term “we generated 308,000 new jobs in March,” which does not in itself state that we gained more jobs than we lost, etc. It will be interesting to see the long term data.

As far as the BLS goes, I have 100% faith in them. Their entire job is being objective. People like that are some unsung heroes in government administration. :slight_smile: I personally never questioned the source, just the way the OP was phrased.

Well, we believed Bush’s first estimate for Medicare cost when he quoted $400 Billion.

But not so long afterwards, a whistleblower told the world he was threatened with the loss of his job if he revealed the true estimated cost: $550 Billion.

And then there’s Iraq’s WMD and nuclear capability and biological weapons, etc., etc.

But this data goes straight out without passing through the White House. They get it at 8:30 on Thursday, same as everyone else[sup]1[/sup],[sup]2[/sup]. Do you have any actual evidence to back your slur against the BLS?

[sup]1[/sup]: Well, apparently 8:28 this month. Looks like someone screwed up and violated the embargo.

[sup]2[/sup]. Well, almost everybody. The Fed is widely believed to get this data in advance, but even they won’t act on it until it’s public for fear of tipping the market to what the data will say.

Oh manhattan, why must you whine about imagined attacks on the BLS?

I asked if we can we believe Bush. Not BLS. I have no doubt that BLS does it’s calculations honestly and capably.

But I also have no doubt that if he thought he could get away with it, Dubya would be happy to skew the Bureau’s numbers to paint whatever picture he wanted.

You say the info comes right from the Bureau into the public domain, and Bush and Co. can’t touch it; that he wouldn’t dare.

I say that would be supremely optimistic.

Dr. Sohn’s analysis of the March figures:

So, almost all are part-time jobs, right?

While everyone is gushing over the 308k new jobs, the reality is that this may just be a one time blip due to how the BLS plays with the numbers. I don’t think the BLS is politically controlled, but I do think that many of the assumptions they use to calculate the final numbers are open to question and do not give a fair picture of the problems.

In this report for March 2004, construction jobs (supposedly 71,000 new in March) are seasonal and ALWAYS pick up as the weather warms. Second, 47.000 new retail jobs were added but 13,000 were from the striking grocery workers going back to work. Is it valid to count someone who wasn’t really unemployed as getting a new job because they are returning from a strike? Third, I’ve read that many of the new jobs were PART-TIME work (remember that in the BLS world, part-time work is considered fully employed).

Does anyone know if the BLS counts someone working at 2 or 3 part-time jobs as 2 or 3 separate jobs? Since they wouldn’t know the names and addresses of people working, I would think this is correct, which would seem to royally skew the data.

The actual BLS report: March 2004 BLS report link

The NY Times has a story here: Link1

An analysis with some good comments by readers is here:

Well, see, milroyj, there’s this little issue called “credibility”. What it means is that people who are constantly being lied to be someone (read “Bush Administration”) lose the ability to trust that someone…even when they tell the truth (or when the department releasing the statistics is sufficiently independent from the lying ideologues in the Administration to succomb to spreading falsehoods).

However, on this point I tend to agree with manhattan, since as I understand it the BLS has enough independence from the White House that I don’t see how White House bias could creep into their numbers. And, as has been noted, noone on either side seems to be questioning their trustworthiness.

[On the other hand, people who were probably arguing about the same thing in regards to the office releasing those estimates of Bush’s medicare proposal are now eating some crow.]

By the way, does anyone know if these numbers ever tend to get revised up or down later, as seems to be true for example with the initial GDP growth estimates.

A major problem for me is that I don’t know who Sung Won Sohn is, except that he’s seems to work for the Wells Fargo Bank. In a PDF file, Dr. Sohn alleges that the overwhelming number of the new jobs created in March 2004 are part time jobs.

If you go to…

…you will learn that Sung Won Sohn is rather depressed over this matter.

Well, if what he said is true, then so am I.

Perhaps manhattan can shed some light on this report.

Well, for whatever it’s worth, I was listening to Air America Radio when the numbers first came in. The hosts promptly picked up the phone and called David(?) Risch, a former economic advisor to Bill Cinton and now some professor mucky-muck out in California. They rang him up at 5:00am(!), and asked him to interpret the numbers. I had to leave before he got into the details, but one point he did mention was that the country needs to add 150,000 new jobs per month just to keep up with population growth – and if you factor in the 308,000 new jobs in March with the results from the past 3 or 6 months, you’re still woefully behind the curve…

Heh, now there is a suprise. Well, enjoy it while it lasts, which probably won’t be too long.

Antiochus seems to lack any understanding as to how the BLS works. They do not get their numbers from the White House; Rather, they have their own dark rituals they go through, and spit out the numbers that show unemployment figures going down (OMG! Bush must have lied about employment figures) or up(OMG! End of the world!) You can’t have it both ways, you know. Either you trust the numbers, and now must suck down the fact that yep, the economy is in the midst of a healthy recovery, or you don’t trust the BLS numbers, in which case you need to go shopping for a new hat.

Unemployment numbers went up.

From 5.6% to 5.7%.

If you are going to jump in with both feet at least get your facts straight.