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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 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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January Unemployment

That means the gyrations between employment, unemployment, and labor force dropouts are just about offsetting each other.
When the unemployment rate drops mainly because an additional million people have left the labor force and population estimates are revised … well, let’s just say this report is not the sign of a healthy economy.
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U.S. Retail Sales: Moving Markets by Ignoring Error Margins

“Retail sales up 0.3% in February” is what you read in the headlines. In response, U.S. stock markets moved higher. … The press release clearly states the margin of error is ±0.5%. In other words, the 0.3% estimate is meaningless. All we know with any confidence is that the actual growth rate is likely between –0.2% and +0.8%. Don’t bet the ranch on this estimate. Continue Reading →