Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Left fiction on jobs numbers

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In case you missed it, over at the MacIver Institute yesterday I wrote about how Rick Ungar and others completely jumped the gun on the jobs numbers story last week and got it completely wrong.

Ungar wrote, “The Current Population Survey, favored by Governor Walker, involves calling households to ask people if they are working. This is the survey that gives us our monthly unemployment number–the number that is consistently attacked by Obama foes because it is impacted by factors such as how many people have dropped out of the hunt for a job, expiration of unemployment benefits and other events that skew the numbers.”

Unfortunately for Ungar’s analysis, those were not the numbers used by Walker. That did not, however, prevent MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow from mixing apples and oranges by quoting Ungar after the new numbers were released even though his analysis was based on the wrong set of numbers.

Ungar also attacked the new jobs numbers even before they were released. WTDY’s Amy Barrilleaux, actually quoted a “tweet” by Walker explaining where the jobs numbers came from. When Ungar responded, he ignored the Twitter posting and incorrectly accused Walker of wanting to use different benchmarks for revising the monthly BLS data to come up with more favorable jobs numbers. “One of the things that he is going to suggest, or according to the presentation that his chief economic advisor made, he used numbers that go back to how these numbers used to be benchmarked.”

The numbers referred to by Ungar are from the Establishment Survey compiled by the BLS, the monthly jobs numbers almost everyone is familiar with. That’s a survey of 3.5% of Wisconsin’s employers subject to major revisions as the data is compared to other employment data. Ungar claimed Walker was going to try to use an old method of benchmarking the numbers instead to produce a more favorable result.

Ungar did add an addendum to his article after the numbers came out showing that Ungar’s speculations were completely wrong. Ungar switched attacks, merely pointing out that Walker is short of the pace for his goal of 250,000 jobs by the end of his normal four-year term. By the time the “correction” was added, the spin was on and Ungar is still being quoted as if his guess work had merit.

By the way, I also wrote previously how monthly job numbers are subject to revision for the MacIver Institute. Some people need to read my stuff more often.

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