Marketplace Disses Trump

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Kai Ryssdal

Kai Ryssdal

Kai Ryssdal’s editorial comment at the end of “Marketplace” July 26, 2015. Copied and pasted without editing by your faithful correspondent. Over-the-top phrasing, however, is solely the responsibility of Mr. Ryssdal.

A word about the unemployment rate and this election.

This weekend on CNN’s Sunday show State of the Union, an interview between Jake Tapper and Donald Trump Jr. turned to the unemployment rate, about which Trump said: “These are artificial numbers, these are massaged to make the existing economy look good, to make this administration look good, when in fact, it’s a total disaster.”

To use as straightforward a word as possible, that’s a lie.

Reasonable people can and do disagree about the health of the economy, and how to measure the labor market, but the idea that the Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] manipulates the monthly unemployment report is without any basis in fact.

It’s at best a fabrication and at worst, and most damaging, a malicious conspiracy theory.

Same thing goes, by the way, for the Republican nominee’s claim that unemployment in this country is at 42 percent.

This isn’t, to quote Jake Tapper, an anti-Trump position or a pro-Clinton position.

It is a pro-truth position.

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. (If you’d like to get some idea of the extent to which the federal government relies on Census data, visit and try to find any single piece of data you’re looking for. The sheer quantity of numbers available is overwhelming. I say this as someone who has spent many, many hours trying to track down data on that site.)

In any case, I’ve written about this before. And I have to remind everyone that John Crudele wrote a series of articles detailing how the data was being faked.  I compiled the articles into a single pdf file which you can read by clicking here.

Having written all this, I have to add one disclaimer.  I do not support Mr. Trump’s candidacy.  I am, in fact, #nevertrump.

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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.