A couple of recent items got me thinking.
First was this Tweet from Dave Weigel, detailing what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie thinks of Friday’s announcement that the national unemployment rate had dropped to 5.1 percent (lower, I might add, than at any time under St. Ronnie’s presidency).
Christie says the official low unemployment # is bunk: “There’s someone in the Perkins building who just throws darts at a dartboard.”
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) September 4, 2015
There was also this one from Josh Barro, who recently interviewed Peter Schiff about the economy, the dollar, interest rates and, of course, gold. Schiff believes that the government essentially fudges the inflation numbers and that the economy’s been in recession for the entirety of the Obama administration (nothing about what was going on under Bush). I urge you to watch the video.
I forgot to share this but Peter Schiff & I had a fun conversation last month about whether CPI stats are cooked: https://t.co/BT8iqdSHO4
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) September 6, 2015
Of course, anyone who’s been paying attention for a while can’t help but recall the Godfather of all Tweets, from whence it all began – Jack Welch’s infamous October 2012 Tweet. Welch was basically claiming that Team Obama cooked the jobs numbers, and did so in such a way, of course, that his re-election was assured. (See Barry’s post on Welch’s book-cooking GE days here.)
Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers
— Jack Welch (@jack_welch) October 5, 2012
So, the unemployment rate is cooked. So are the inflation numbers. Basically, any numbers that reflect favorably on Team Obama, or the economy on his watch, are bogus.
Which brings me to very oft-cited Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR). Secretary Perez, dude. Seriously. WTF are you not doing with the LFPR? How are you letting it languish at multi-decade lows and giving talking points to the right wing?
Herewith just a smattering of news stories on the LFPR after last Friday’s jobs report:
There’s an easy fix to be had for our flagging LFPR, and it’s hard to believe I’m the first to think of it: The number must be cooked, like all the other government statistics the right complains about. I mean, what’s the point of fudging the unemployment rate, payrolls numbers, inflation data, etc., when you’re going to leave the LFPR dangling out there like some economic piñata for conservatives to bludgeon month after month? Not on my watch!
Below is a chart of the the government-reported LFPR (blue line) and what I think a proper fudging – under my leadership – would look like (red line). And yes, you’re damn right I want a new 35-year high. Why the hell not? What kind of nonsense is it to bring the unemployment rate down to 5.1 percent, print some 200,000 nonfarm payroll jobs per month, have most other numbers behaving very well, and leave the LFPR to languish?
My commitment to the American people is both simple and straightforward: I will cook any and every number that needs to be cooked. We’ll see continued job growth, probably an unemployment rate under 2 percent. You also have my word that I’ll keep the LFPR above 66 percent. With a little help from my friends, we can probably run a surplus within a year or so, and pay down all our debt over the next decade or so. Nothing we can’t do with a little moxie and an Excel spreadsheet or two. (Jeb! – that 4% growth rate you’re pining for? Call me.)
Let’s get serious here – if you think the government is cooking all manner of economic releases, you need to explain the LFPR.
Previously on LFPR – See my fairly comprehensive May 2014 post on the issue here.