11 thoughts on “Married to the Media”

  1. Welch’s tweets were way over the top. If you want to question the import or accuracy of the labor number, fine, but to jump to the conclusion that they were rigged, and rigged because they lost in the debate is going too far.
    I’ve always argued that conservatives overstate the pervasiveness of bias and its effect on political outcomes. It’s so influential, for example, that in the 40 years from 1980-2010 we’ve only had 20 years of Republican presidents. That’s only half!
    Ordinary people can distinguish opinion pieces from news pieces, and opinion pieces are biased by definition. People likely are even more cautious when it comes to articles involving politics.
    My main pet peeve is the pervasiveness of news articles examining the political impact of news rather then simply the news itself.

  2. BLS may be above rigging the numbers, but clearly this Administration would not be, given its (openly admitted) promise to indemnify Lockheed for WARN Act violations, so as to convince Lockheed not to send layoff notices to Virginia workers before the election.
    Welch’s op-ed in today’s WSJ, as well as a lot of the other commentary, makes pretty clear that the BLS’ reports need to be read in more detail and with a more skeptical eye given the methodological changes and the agency’s habit of post hoc revisions.

  3. No problem here with looking harder at the numbers, but to assign blame and motive at this stage? With no evidence? Over the top.

  4. The BLS numbers are so far out of the realm of possibility that they defy belief. The more you read all the rest of the data, in the BLS report and elsewhere on the economy, the more preposterous the 850,000 new jobs number becomes. There has never been a change that large under these kind of conditions. Not even close. It isn’t just unique and historic, it’s historic with a bullet.
    The BLS number is ever bit as ridiculous as the football stud with a C- avg in HS who scored a 9 (out of 36) on his previous 2 attempts at the ACT scoring a 33 on his 3d try. Suuuuurrrrrreeee he hit that 99th percentile after just a little more studying.
    MVH, you argument re: bias and the number of GOP presidents is a logical fallacy. Try harder.

  5. Stan,
    “There has never been a change that large under these kind of conditions. Not even close.”
    Really? Are you sure about that?
    “There is some controversy over the legitimacy of the BLS household employment measure and the unemployment rate that is derived from the same survey, but the numbers seem statistically reasonable,” said Donald Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy. Grimes looked at the historical difference in month-to-month employment movement since 1970 as reported by the payroll survey, which collects data from business and government, and the household survey, which asks individuals about their work situation and is used to calculate the nation’s official unemployment rate. The payroll survey showed job gains of 114,000 during September, but the household survey revealed much higher employment growth of 873,000, which was the major reason for the sudden drop in the unemployment rate. Using statistical analysis, Grimes said that we should expect a difference of this magnitude between the two sets of numbers once every 35 months of data, given the randomness of measurement errors. And, in fact, there were 20 months since January 1970 where the difference between the two surveys was larger than the one reported in September (measured in percentage terms). “So the results were unusual, but not unprecedented,” Grimes said. “One word of caution, however—there is probably about a one-third chance, based solely on the self-correction of sample-based measurement errors as seen in the historical data, that the household survey will show a substantial decline in employment in October causing the unemployment rate to jump up again.”

  6. Never thought I’d say it, but I kinda agree with Crank.
    The economy coming back in just 4 short years after the Bush/ Cheney debacle? Hard to believe. Thought it would take AT LEAST 3 decades.

  7. Economists John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros of RDQ Economics: “Such a rapid decline in the unemployment rate would be consistent with 4%–5% real economic growth historically” and “the household data show an increase in employment of 873,000 in September, which is completely implausible”.
    The number of employed has jumped that high only 4 times in history and all four were during times of powerful economic growth.

  8. Stan,
    First of all, maybe you should have finished the sentence that you ended with “implausible.” The sentence should read “implausible and likely the result of sampling volatility.” The quote continues: “Moreover, declining labor force participation over the last year (resulting in 1.1 million people disappearing from the labor force) accounts for much of the rest of the decline.”
    Had you bothered to read further, you would have found that the analysis is not terribly different than mine and hardly a basis for jumping to the conclusion that the numbers were rigged.
    Obviously the number is an anomaly that demands explanation and no serious economist is treating this a rosy number, including the Department of Labor:
    “Yes, the U-3 unemployment rate fell to 7.8%, the first time it has been below 8% since January 2009. But that’s only due to a flood of 582,000 part-time jobs. As the Labor Department noted:
    The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) rose from 8.0 million in August to 8.6 million in September. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.”

  9. MVH,
    No, the economists aren’t, but notice how the major media outlets have stopped telling us, as they always do when Republican is President, that the household survey is far more volatile and tends to be less accurate.

  10. I can’t recall exactly where I read about the unemployment story, though it was likely on a financially driven website, and not say, MSNBC. But just for the heck of it, I checked MSNBC, which pulled the story from the LA times article:
    This isn’t the kind of article that screams bias to me. It does state that the survey is more volatile. It does have what I hate, namely, an immediate analysis of what this figure might mean for the election, as if that is somehow a detailed discussion of the unemployment number is secondary.
    I don’t know what else is out there, but I chose MSNBC because it’s regularly accused of cheerleading for Obama.

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