Jobs report spawns conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theorists came out in full force after the government reported a sudden drop in the US unemployment rate one month before Election Day

Written by Associated Press | Washington | Published:October 7, 2012 1:07 am

Conspiracy theorists came out in full force after the government reported a sudden drop in the US unemployment rate one month before Election Day. Their message: The Obama administration would do anything to ensure a November victory,including manipulating unemployment data.

The conspiracy was widely rejected. Officials at Labour Department said the figures were calculated by highly-trained employees without any political interference. Democrats and even some Republicans said they found the charges implausible.

Yet that didn’t stop the chatter. The allegations were a measure of how politicized the monthly jobs report has become near the end of a campaign that has focussed on the economy and jobs.

The conspiracy erupted after former General Electric CEO Jack Welch,a Republican,tweeted his skepticism five minutes after the Labour Department announced that the unemployment rate had fallen to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent the month before.

“Unbelievable jobs numbers… these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers,” Welch tweeted,referring to the site of Obama campaign headquarters.

Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida soon announced that he agreed with Welch. “Somehow by manipulation of data we are all of a sudden below 8 percent unemployment,a month from the presidential election,” West wrote. “This is Orwellian to say the least.”

The Obama administration wasn’t given much time to gloat about the strong economic improvement. Instead,it had to defend statisticians and economists against accusations made without any supporting evidence.

Economists too offered plausible reasons for the skepticism. A big chunk of increase in employed Americans came from those who work part-time: 582,000 more people reported that they were working part-time last month but wanted full-time jobs.

The jobs report is prepared under tight security each month by Bureau of Labour Statistics without any input from White House. It is based on data collected by census workers,who interview Americans in 60,000 households by telephone or door-to-door.

Obama campaign raises record $181 mn

US President Barack Obama’s campaign and its Democratic allies raised a record $181 million in September for the president’s re-election effort. Obama’s campaign said via Twitter on Saturday that 1,825,813 people donated to the campaign last month. Reuters

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