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One of the advantages of writing an opinion blog is that opinions are never inaccurate, even when they are wrong. But we should expect better from government agencies who publish statistics that policy makers, businesspeople, academics, journalists, and citizens rely on to make decisions and draw conclusions – like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example.
Recently, the Bureau named Wisconsin as the state with the worst job loss in November, with a decline of 14,600. This came on the heels of 9,700 jobs BLS reported lost in October. The Badger State’s two-month total of 24,300 jobs lost led the nation in workplace suckage; and opponents of Wisconsin Governor Walker eagerly jumped on the November BLS presser to bolster their sagging effort to recall him.
One anonymous commenter on my blog site asked me (ok, taunted) what I had to say about those BLS numbers, since I had just written a piece opposing the recall. Instead of reading the BLS press release, I visited the underlying data tables (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/laus.t03.htm) and discovered a slightly different story.
The BLS data show that Wisconsin’s workforce dropped from 3,057,800 in September to 3,055,200 in November, while the number of unemployed in Wisconsin fell from 238,600 to 223,800. Since the workforce is only made up of two parts – the employed and the unemployed – simple subtraction reveals there were 2,819,200 people working in September and 2,831,400 in November.
Do you see what’s wrong with this picture?
That’s right - the BLS data shows an increase of 12,200 jobs during those two months, not the loss of 24,300 reported to the press by the union humps who run the joint. I asked them for an explanation – two bucks says I will hear from D*** Clark again before I get any response from the humble public servants who work for me. Five bucks says no journalist will even bother to ask.
The BLS data reconciles perfectly; unemployment drops by 14,800 because 12,200 jobs are added and 2,600 leave the workforce (retire, move out of state, go back to school, etc.). On the other hand, I could find no combination of numbers that can be tortured into a computation of a 24,300 job loss in October/November. If you can crack the code, I will be happy to print the recipe here at Moment of Clarity.
So, what do I think about the BLS report of Wisconsin’s job losses in November? I think they lied; that’s what I think. It would not be the first time.
My doctoral dissertation in 2006 (late bloomer) was a study of government contract bundling and its impact on small businesses. The conventional wisdom at the time was that 34,221 illegal acts of contract bundling had caused the failure of over 15,000 thousand firms since 1990. My thesis was that the problem was actually far worse than the government was reporting, particularly among minority businesses, and I constructed a study which expected to prove how much worse it really was.
What I discovered, without boring you to tears, is that less than two dozen actual cases were reported by contractors victimized by the practice. The whole issue was bogus – a complete fabrication to increase funding for an agency put on the block during Clinton/Gore’s reinventing government initiative. The government’s data did not support the headlines trumpeted by its agency heads – sound familiar?
I was invited to Washington to brief the heads of procurement for all of the national security agencies, was received begrudgingly at Small Business Administration, and was invited to testify at Senator Kerry’s committee on small business. The Senator apparently had misunderstood my research findings, because when his staff was informed that I had disproved the contract bundling myth, he cancelled my testimony. No hard feelings, Mr. Kerry.
My work was honored internationally for its methodology, and I published a couple of journal articles to scrutinize my findings through academic peer review and publication. From time to time someone still contacts me, as my research is still the most recent academic literature on the subject. But it is not my life’s work; I have a company to run, a family to love, friends to laugh with, and a blog to write.
So I am not surprised that the BLS data does not support its agency heads’ pressers. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to guess at possible reasons why Obama appointees at the Department of Unions might want to propagandize against the nation’s top union buster, Governor Walker. Or perhaps it was just a simple error - two months in a row. Yeah…yeah, that’s the ticket.
And don’t even get on your high horse, Demski’s; it’s not about you. I don’t care if they are Republican, Democrat, or just members of the Permanent Government Workers Party, they say whatever they want if it serves their own interest. If my Libertarian party ever took control, we would soon be corrupted too; human nature does not grant waivers to humans.
That’s why we need to shut it all down; all but the 18 essential services authorized by the Constitution. Put the Department of Labor and its Bureau of Labor Statistics high on the list of first to go. If you want accurate labor statistics, buy them from Manpower; they are a private sector firm that makes their living by accurately assessing job markets. They are not too big to fail, so they have to get it right.
Profit is the cure for the sloth that makes government worse than useless. Of course, that is just my opinion. And thank you, Anonymous, for asking.
“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment.