There are skeptics who question and even sometimes challenge the federal government on statistics it releases on a number of matters, such as the number of people who are unemployed in this country. Sometimes even other governmental entities question the federal government as to the accuracy of the statistics they spew out.

Now comes Mortimer Zuckerman, chairman and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report, who wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the public should not be fooled by the latest employment numbers. He wrote that the unemployment situation in the United States is still dire.

The Great Recession has been followed by the Grand Illusion about employment and the economy. After 2.4 percent annual growth rates in gross domestic product in 2010 and 2011, the economy slowed to 1.5 percent growth in 2012. Cumulative growth for the past 12 quarters was just 6.3 percent, the slowest of all 11 recessions since World War II, Zuckerman wrote.

On the jobless numbers from the Feds, the February rate was given as 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in January. Zuckerman wrote that if you account for the people who are excluded from that number, then the real jobless rate is between 14 and 15 percent. The number excluded includes those people no longer looking for work, involuntary part-time workers and others marginally attached to the job force.

The number of people unemployed for six months or longer went up by 89,000 in February to a total of 4.8 million. The average work week, Zuckerman wrote, now is 34.5 hours.

It is evident we have a lingering recession. It also is a fact that the loss of jobs includes some that will never return. Technological advances have simply killed off some jobs that will never return.

Zuckerman contends the numbers from the Feds comes down to politics. This administration isn’t the first, and probably won’t be the last, to “cook” the numbers for political purposes.