Some Claim U.S. Jobless Numbers Were Manipulated

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Conspiracy theorists are suggesting that the decline in the jobless rate last month from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent is the result of political manipulation.

Career government officials, economists and even some Republicans say the charge is nonsense.

Unemployment numbers are produced by several dozen people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The experts work under tight security and without White House input or supervision. The data used by the BLS is collected by Census workers who interview Americans in about 60,000 households or visit them door-to-door.

The conspiracy theories erupted after former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, a Republican, tweeted his skepticism five minutes after the BLS announced the unemployment rate at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Welch charged that "these guys from Chicago will do anything." Florida Congressman Allen West called the report "Orwellian."

But former BLS commissioner Keith Hall, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, says the numbers of "very trustworthy" and would be impossible to manipulate.

Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are using today's jobs report to bolster their campaign arguments.

The unemployment report comes as a boost to the president, who called it a sign that the economy is "moving forward again." Cheers erupted from the crowd at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., when Obama noted that the jobless rate is now at its lowest level since he became president.

Obama said the report shows that the country has made too much progress to turn back to the policies that he says led the nation into an economic crisis.

Romney said with more than 12 million people still out of work, the country continues to struggle through "tough times" and he says president Obama's policies have failed to help. A 7.8 percent unemployment rate is "not what a real recovery looks like," Romney said.

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