Numbers spin

When searching for the press release for the June unemployment report form the Bureau of Labor Statistics I came across the White House blog from the Council of Economic Advisors.

Under the headlines: the Employment Situation In June,  it stated, “Private nonfarm payroll employment increased by 83,000 in June and the unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.5%.”

The official BLS press release stated under the headline THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION – JUNE 2010 (the official name of the report): Total nonfarm payroll employment declined by 125,000 in June, and the unemployment rate edged down to 9.5%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

In the May report the White House blog featured the headline payroll number,  up 431,000, nearly all of it attributable to census hiring and the President and Vice-President jumped the gun in touting the number that was generally seen as pretty negative.

If we point out, which we did, that the May number was poor as it was under expectations and nearly all of the growth was attributable to temporary census hiring we should also note that June payrolls rose sans census though a little below expectations.

But the bigger issue — and yes I know politics is politics — is that there is better use of our leaders’ time then spinning economic reports. The economy is not growing as it should and whether we technically fall into a double dip recession or merely experience tepid growth is a matter for accountants. Simply report the numbers and move on.

It seems the previous administration wasted time trying to mask significant economic problems rather than acknowledging them head on. This most likely made the problems worse. They also complained that negative reporting served as some sort of self fulfilling prophesy. This is nonsense and the current administration should not fall into this self pitying pattern. Instead they should concentrate on solutions.

About the Author
Daniel P. Collins

Editor-in-Chief of Futures Magazine, Daniel Collins is a 25-year veteran of the futures industry having worked on the trading floors of both the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Dan joined Futures in 2001 and in 2005 he was promoted to Managing Editor, responsible for overseeing all the content that went into Futures and futuresmag.com. Dan’s incisive reporting and no-holds barred commentary places him among the most recognized national media figures covering futures, derivative trading and alternative investments.

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