Jobs and Politics - The Missourian: Editorials

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Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 5:00 pm

Coming on the heels of President Barack Obama’s poor performance in the first presidential debate was a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics last Friday that the unemployment rate had dropped. Immediately, there were accusations that the president and the Democrats had cooked the numbers.

The report was that the jobless rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September. It was reported at 8.1 the month before.

The government just as quickly said the figures were not cooked. The numbers were reported a month before the general election to give President Obama an election boost is the complaint by Republicans. The timing is what caused the uproar and gave birth to conspiracy theories.

There are many people who have for some time expressed doubts to any statistics released by the federal government. They believe both parties when in power have been guilty of cooking the numbers to gain a political advantage. The government defended its professionals who prepare statistical reports. If the cooking had been going on, probably by now a whistle blower would have come forward to report any influence that had been placed on them.

The new number of the jobless means that it is at the lowest point in four years if accurate.

A story by David C. Brooks, author and president of the American Enterprise Institute, related that the true level of unemployment (the percentage of Americans who are unemployed, involuntarily working part-time or have given up looking for work) is nearly 15 percent. “The poverty rate is stuck close to 12 percent and shows no signs of declining,” he wrote.

Again, it’s the timing of the statistics that has raised doubts. President Obama did need a boost after his dismal debate performance. The numbers do smell of politics. Is the Department of Labor more favorable to Democrats than Republicans? Business leaders will tell you it is.

We’ve got a new debate going: Were the numbers cooked?

/opinion/editorials