November 19 2013

Report: Faked Census Data Boosted Pre-Election Jobs Report

Patrice J. Lee

According to a new bombshell report, in the months leading up to last year’s presidential election, the federal government released “faked” unemployment data. If this is proven true, it will be a huge scandal, not to mention being disillusioning to an already-disillusioned public.

The New York Post broke this story last night. Publishing accounts from a Census employee, who says he would willingly talk with the Labor Department and Congress if called upon, and confidential Census documents, The Post reports that the employees faked Census results and he was directed to do so by higher –ups at Census.

If you remember, from August to September of 2012 the unemployment rate fell sharply from 8.1 to 7.8 percent. Many people from Washington to Wall Street were skeptical, but the Administration was glad to have the report to use for the president's re-election campaign.

Just two years before the presidential election, the Census Bureau had caught an employee fabricating data that went into the unemployment report, which is one of the most closely watched measures of the economy.

And a knowledgeable source says the deception went beyond that one employee — that it escalated at the time President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012 and continues today.

“He’s not the only one,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous for now but is willing to talk with the Labor Department and Congress if asked.

The Census employee caught faking the results is Julius Buckmon, according to confidential Census documents obtained by The Post. Buckmon told me in an interview this past weekend that he was told to make up information by higher-ups at Census.

“It was a phone conversation — I forget the exact words — but it was, ‘Go ahead and fabricate it’ to make it what it was,” Buckmon told me.

By making up survey results — and, essentially, creating people out of thin air and giving them jobs — Buckmon’s actions could have lowered the jobless rate.

Buckmon said he filled out surveys for people he couldn’t reach by phone or who didn’t answer their doors.

But, Buckmon says, he was never told how to answer the questions about whether these nonexistent people were employed or not, looking for work, or have given up.

Census never publicly disclosed the falsification. Nor did it inform Labor that its data was tainted.

How did this happen? Apparently, the Labor Department’s stringent standards prompted Census workers to get creative in hitting their targets. They must reach 9 out of 10 households targeted and report back on their jobs status and for regions that were coming up short they filled gaps with faked reports.

After the September jobs report, one of the most public critics was legendary former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, who questioned how the unemployment rate could drop so precipitously. He noted, “I doubt many of us know any businessperson who believes the economy is growing at breakneck speed, as it would have to be for unemployment to drop to 7.8% from 8.3% over the course of two months.”

What did he get in return for his candor? A shellacking from the Administration’s sympathizers. Yet when he said, referring to the questionable data collection process,  that Bureau of Labor Statistics data is not error-free, he was speaking prophetically.

This has the makings of a huge story. It tarnishes the reputation of the Census Bureau and makes us question any of the reports about our nation’s people, workers and demographics.

It also sheds a negative light on the Labor Department and the unemployment numbers they release, which many like Jack Welch, thought smelled fishy.

Let’s hope an investigation will identify whoever allegedly gave the direction to falsify data, and links to other agencies, if they are involved. Conspiracy theorists can fill in the blanks on just how high up this goes.

One thing we can surmise, this is just the beginning.

 

 

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