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Marketplace Disses Trump

Mr. Ryssdal has made a fundamental error. He assumes the BLS gathers the data for the unemployment rate. That is not true. BLS outsources data collection to the Bureau of the Census. And, shortly after taking office in his first term, President Obama moved Census from it’s long-time home in the Department of Commerce to the Executive Office of the President. Which means the administration directly runs the critical data collection job for much of the government. Continue Reading →

Why I Will Not Use U.S. Government Data for Three More Years

I have reluctantly concluded that I cannot believe any numbers emanating from the U.S. government. The purpose of this article is to explain why I will not use U.S. government data for three more years. The exception is long-term historical data that is harder to fudge. I remain hopeful that the next occupant of the executive branch will restore integrity to the data. … I am personally heartbroken speaking as someone who has used and relied on this data since 1971.
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The Explosive Growth of SNAP

That’s a 54.69% increase in people and a 65.27% increase in households over a four year period. That’s 11.5 percent per year for people and 13.4 percent per year for households. If employment had grown at 1/4 those rates I’d be a happy economist. Continue Reading →

The September Jobs Report

Did the U.S. economy really gain 873,000 jobs in September, 2012? Was the unemployment rate really 7.8%? Economists have reacted to these numbers with a peculiar mixture of disbelief and defensiveness. No sane economist believes these numbers represent the current state of the U.S. economy. A quick-and-dirty estimate says that real GDP would have to grow at a 4 – 5% annual rate to add that many jobs. Actual GDP growth in recent quarters has been below 2.5%. … there’s a good chance that the 873,000 increase in jobs is simply a statistical fluke. Remember, total employment is estimated using a sample of 60,000 households. There is a large margin of error.
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December Unemployment Rate

A good part of this drop was caused by the ongoing decline of the number of workers in the labor force. The labor force participation rate dropped sharply to 64.1%. This is the lowest participation rate since 1983’s 64.0%. Anyone who argues that the drop in the unemployment rate signals an improving economy should be forced to recycle their Ph.D. in economics into aluminum beer cans. Continue Reading →