We all blinked furiously when we read the government’s claim that the number of unemployed rose in January by 20,000 but the unemployment rate fell from 10% to 9.7%. Somebody has obviously been cooking the numbers in a most ingenious manner. On Meet the press, Alan Greenspan explains the absurdity thus:
MR. GREGORY: Dr. Greenspan, one more question about jobs. So you think that unemployment rate goes up again before it comes down?MR. GREENSPAN: I’m not sure. One of the reasons is the official data on unemployment is a sample and it fluctuates, and–as we observed in, in the January report. If you literally took it seriously as to the exact numbers, there were 784,000 job increase in January. Now, that didn’t happen. And so that what we can expect is a backing and filling. I think we’re going to stay at approximately the 9 to 10 percent level here for a goodly part of the rest of this year with the sole exception of that period when they start to hire a very large number of census workers. Remember, this is the decennial census.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. GREENSPAN: And that’s going to have some positive effect. But it’s very difficult to make the case that unemployment is coming down anytime soon.