U.S. unemployment slid from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), giving the Obama campaign ammunition to tout job growth right before the November election. But as soon as the numbers were released, critics asserted a slew of criticisms over the BLS report, claiming the numbers were cooked to favor the president’s plot for reelection.
On the heels of the BLS’s September jobs report, conservative commentators and lawmakers voiced their opinion on the data, claiming the alleged 0.3-percent drop in U.S. unemployment was doubtful. "Jobs #s from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are total pro-Obama propaganda — labor force participation rate at 30-yr low. Abysmal!" charged conservative radio host Laura Ingraham in a Twitter message. Outspoken Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) also piled on, posting on Facebook his impression that “Chicago style politics is at work” with regard to a “manipulation” of the employment data.
Of course, one of the BLS’s most contentious critics was Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, who Tweeted shortly after the jobs report was published, “Unbelievable jobs numbers ... these Chicago guys will do anything ... can’t debate so change numbers.” Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Welch asserted October 10 that his initial conclusions were in fact valid, that “the 7.8% unemployment figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week is downright implausible.”
National unemployment data is compiled over a one-week period by census workers, mostly by phone contacts, and the rest through home visits. All in all, the BLS attempts to contact 60,000 households, laying out a series of questions and documenting the responses. However, Welch notes:
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Photo of Jack Welch: AP Images