The Corner

Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics . . . and Government Numbers

For those of you out there who may be skeptical about the reliability of today’s jobs numbers, you’ve got good reason.

Just as the alleged massive ”cuts” to federal spending in the debt-ceiling deal are actually just slightly-less-massive increases in federal spending, the alleged “drop” in the unemployment rate from 9.2 percent to 9.1 percent somehow coincides with more Americans being out of work today than a month ago. Both of these feats of alchemy could only be produced by Washington’s doublespeak and Red Queen accounting. 

The reason why the unemployment rate — though abysmal – appears to have held relatively steady is because more than 120,000 discouraged individuals dropped out of the labor market altogether, joining the swelling ranks of the long-term unemployed. Most of these individuals were not counted by the federal government in determining today’s unemployment figure. The disappearance of these individuals from the labor market more than offsets the 117,000 jobs created in July.

When a $6 trillion spending increase is touted as a cut, and when more people being unemployed is announced as a drop in the unemployment rate, language has lost its meaning and the federal government has lost its credibility. We’re hurtling toward a precipice at 75 mph, but according to the federal government’s speedometer, we’re only going 55.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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