The Department of Labor statistics released September jobs numbers early Friday that indicated the unemployment rate had curiously fallen to 7.8% Former GE big wheel Jack Welch tweeted this message: “unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything…can’t change debate…so change numbers.”
That touched off a firestorm of controversy that left the Obama Administration defending the numbers instead of bragging about them as a number of media pundits chimed in that Mr. Welch was off the hook, so to speak.
Of course, these numbers are subjected to a great deal of analysis and scrutiny and are based on household surveys, as well as an analysis of the number of people in the work force. And while the drop from 8.1% to 7.8% surprised many analysts, including some of the folks at Bloomberg News who anticipated a spike from 8.1% to 8.2%, a closer look at the so-called “internals” also showed that the number of part time jobs increased from 7.5% to 8.3%.
In other words, the economy saw more than 500,000 part time jobs added to the pools in September, and this figure gets added to the number of underemployed workers. Most importantly, the employment participation rate fell to about 63% and this reflects that the total number of workers has fallen dramatically.
Meanwhile, Mr. Welch defended his tweet later on in an interview that was broadcast on CNBC’s Squawk Box program where he said “I wasn’t kidding.”
“I am doing nothing more than raising the question,” Mr. Welch said. “It’s fact-based.”
In response a Treasury Department official said that any suggestion the figures had been manipulated for political gain is absurd, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Welch argued that to keep the unemployment rate even as the population grows, the economy needs to add between 150,000 and 200,000 jobs a month. However, employers added a seasonally adjusted 114,000 jobs in September, down from a revised 142,000 jobs in August. The economy, however, has added 143,000 jobs a month after revisions this year.
“The economy doesn’t feel like it added 873,000 jobs in September,” Mr. Welch said. “There are a number of things here that are open to discussion.”
In the end, this sounds a bit conspiratorial, but there should be greater clarity when the next Labor Department figures will be released around November 1st or 2nd, just days before the election. In the meantime, opinion polls since the president’s debate debacle have shifted dramatically and this jobless report controversy could become much ado about nothing by November 7th.
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Kyle Colona is a New York-based freelance writer and a Feature Writer for CompliancEX and the Wall Street Job Report. He has an extensive background in legal and regulatory affairs in the financial services sector and his work has appeared in a variety of print and on-line publications. You can find him on linkedin.