Skip to comments.Exposing MSM Tricks on Unemployment and Presidential Polling
Posted on 02/06/2012 1:06:24 PM PST by Kaslin
The White House and the media were ecstatic about Friday's BLS unemployment report, which showed the national jobless rate dropping to 8.3 percent, as the US economy added 243,000 jobs. These should be welcome results for all Americans, CBO's harrowing 2012 economic projections notwithstanding. Although the headlines were uniformly positive, reality isn't quite as cheery. Leftist Paul Krugman notes that long-term unemployment remains historically persistent, the U-6 "real" unemployment rate still floats above 15 percent, and -- most distressingly -- the labor force continues to contract. Zero Hedge documented Friday's flat-out bad news (emphasis his):
A month ago, we joked when we said that for Obama to get the unemployment rate to negative by election time, all he has to do is to crush the labor force participation rate to about 55%. Looks like the good folks at the BLS heard us: it appears that the people not in the labor force exploded by an unprecedented record 1.2 million. No, that's not a typo: 1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force in one month! So as the labor force increased from 153.9 million to 154.4 million, the non institutional population increased by 242.3 million meaning, those not in the labor force surged from 86.7 million to 87.9 million. Which means that the civilian labor force tumbled to a fresh 30 year low of 63.7% as the BLS is seriously planning on eliminating nearly half of the available labor pool from the unemployment calculation.
The Heritage Foundation confirms the plunge in labor force participation in this chart, followed by another graph demonstrating that by the Obama administration's own projections (which were used to sell the stimulus to anxious Americans in 2009), the unemployment rate should be more than two percentage points lower than today's 8.3 percent:
And the failed-on-its-own-terms "stimulus" data:
Nevertheless, saccharine headlines and "I get better with age!" happy talk from President Obama -- matched with a lackluster and increasingly bitter GOP primary -- will give the incumbent an approval boost. Right on cue, the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll purports to show Obama hitting the magic 50 percent mark and leading Mitt Romney in head-to-head general election contest. Celebrate good times, Democrats! Except...the poll is "worthless," according to Hot Air's Ed Morrissey. Why?
First, this is a poll of general population adults rather than registered or likely voters, so it’s not even a proper polling type for the predictive outcome they claim. More importantly, though, the poll series has dropped its reporting of partisan identification within their samples. It’s the second time that the poll has not included the D/R/I split in its sample report, and now it looks as though this will be policy from this point forward. Since this is a poll series that has handed double-digit partisan advantages to Democrats in the past (for instance, this poll from April 2011 where the sample only had 22% Republicans), it’s not enough to just hear “trust us” on sample integrity from the Washington Post or ABC. One cannot determine whether Obama’s improvement in this series is a result of the State of the Union speech, as Dan Balz and Jon Cohen suggest, or whether it’s due to shifting the sample to favor Democrats more so than in previous samples.
Indeed, WaPo/ABC's numbers have been raked over the coals by conservatives in the past for their ludicrously unbalanced party ID samples. This pollster has displayed an interesting habit of surveying far more Democrats than Republicans, which -- surprise! -- produces favorable data for Democrats. Rather than be held to account for their questionable methods, WaPo/ABC has simply decided to hide their methodology from the public altogether. Which reminds me: I'd like to announce the release of a new nationwide poll of likely voters that shows Barack Obama's approval rating falling to 36 percent. This IGB* survey reveals that Obama would lose to every possible Republican opponent by at least seven points. Whom did this pollster question, you ask? It's IGB's policy to adhere to the Washington Post/ABC News precedent and not release that data. But by all means, please talk about these important findings ad nauseam on television and radio.
All sarcasm aside, this election cycle will have peaks and valleys. This latest poll will get breathless attention from liberals, while conservatives will point to Gallup's recent swing-state data and other numbers. Polls are addictive to horse-race watchers (guilty as charged), but they won't become truly meaningful until late September. Recall that McCain-Palin raced out to a ten point lead among likely voters in Gallup on the heels of the 2008 RNC. The rollercoaster ride continues...
UPDATE - A Democratic pollster is questioning another element of the WaPo/ABC numbers.
*IGB is a new polling firm that exists entirely in this author's mind. Methodology inquiries will be ignored. Thank you.
A number of policies were introduced which caused the unemployment figures to drop. Women were no longer included in the statistics so any women who remained out of work under the Nazis rule did not exist as far as the statistics were concerned.
Reproduced from table at link
This "economic miracle" was based on unemployment all but disappearing by 1939.
Unemployment in Germany
But was this true or did the Nazi propaganda machine move into overdrive to persuade the nation and Europe that she had achieved something that other European nations had not during the time of economic depression?
[End of quotes]
But is this true or has the Obama MSM propaganda machine moved into overdrive to persuade the Nation that Obama has overcome the economic depression left by Bush?
This sudden jump is an artifact of incorporating the 2010 census results. See here.
If the Obama critics are correct I suggest that this is how the Current Population Survey (CPS) -- a.k.a., BLS household survey, I believe -- be used to get the results wanted. -- to wit, how the BLS could change the interpretation of the answers to the survey questions and get the results that may have been demanded by the Administration. This is not the census that I am talking about it is the monthly BLS household survey.
Below are some quotes from my link above.
"To know about unemploymentthe extent and nature of the problemrequires information . . . After these statistics are obtained, they have to be interpreted properly so they can be used . . . ."
As I understand it, there are not questions like, "Are you marginally attached to the labor force?"
"Based on information collected in the survey and definitions programmed into the computer, individuals are then classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labor force."
"definitions programmed into the computer" - I doubt that that has changed since the days of the IBM7080; to wit, tables. The computer consults tables to interpret a response to a question. The tables are there to be modified between runs in response to users' needs. So this month a particular response can have a different interpretation from last month.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with using tables. They are essential. But I suppose it's like the saying "Figures don't lie, but liars figure."
I recall the recovery from the 2001 recession. The same kind of arguments raged. But of course that was real recovery though somewhat anemic historically. IMO.
The household survey has nothing to do with actual hiring. That is documented from real W-2 and such data provided by the establishment survey of 400,000 businesses.
If a $1.4T annual spending jump boosted unemployment that much for three consecutive years, what would a sustained and responsible spending cut ($500M fewer real dollars per year being spent by DC than in 2008) have done? I wish we could elect a conservative and find out!
What MSM tricks?
They must be speaking about bias, lies, libel and outright, blatant partisanship while masquerading as “impartial” and “truthful”.
what’s that? Link please!!!
I'm of the opinion that Mister Obama's labor participation calculations and employment projections might actually be based on noted economist Harold Hill's Think System.
Not yet, please. Even if I am the only one who does not understand. Not that I expect you to answer but in general I wonder..
OK so BLS uses the last census but it is not like THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JANUARY 2012 was adjusted by Census 2010.
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JANUARY 2012 says
"Each year, the Census Bureau updates the estimates to reflect new information and assumptions about the growth of the population during the decade. The change in population reflected in the new estimates results from the introduction of the Census 2010 count as the new population base. . . ."
The last census is the base, fine -- the problem is "estimates to reflect new information and assumptions about the growth of the population during the [current] decade"
I do not trust government to be nonpartisan. The Administration is in control and they want estimates and assumptions (figures) that help them. I say again figures don't lie but liars figure.
Personally I don't get the impact of the increases in persons 55 and older and persons 16 to 24 years of age. Working age I thought was 16 to 65.
So as I noted above Hitler "solved" the unemployment problem (vis-a-vis public perception) by eliminating women from the unemployed count. So Obama is eliminating 55 and older? 24 and younger?
Employment Situation Summary THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JANUARY 2012
Some quotes from THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JANUARY 2012
"Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 243,000 in January, and the unemployment rate decreased to 8.3 percent . . .
"The unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point in January to 8.3 percent . . . The number of unemployed persons declined to 12.8 million in January. . .
[The Employment Situation Data are affected by
- the annual benchmarking process,
- the updating of seasonal adjustment factors, and
- updated population estimates.]
"After accounting for the annual adjustments to the population controls,
the employment-population ratio (58.5 percent) rose in January [this is a statistical ratio that measures the proportion of the country's working-age population that is employed. According to the International Labour Organization, a person is considered employed if they have worked at least 1 hour in "gainful" employment in the most recent week. 58.5 percent is for Jan 2012, past values are United States 72.0(1994) 73.1(2001) 71.9(2002) 71.2(2003) 71.2(2004) 71.5(2005) 66.7(2010)]
while the civilian labor force participation rate held at 63.7 percent . . .
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons . . . changed little in January . . .
In January, 2.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. . .These individuals
[-] were not in the labor force,
[-] wanted and were available for work, and
[-] had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months.
They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the [household] survey . . . Among the marginally attached, [there is] little different from a year earlier. . . . [the count includes people who] had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the [household] survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. . .
[Changes to the Household Survey: the questions on race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity were modified to incorporate minor wording changes.]
[Revisions to Establishment Survey Data resulted in Table A. Revisions in total nonfarm employment, January-December 2011, seasonally adjusted. Indicates more accurate count of people employed based upon data obtained from records.]
[Adjustments to Population Estimates for the Household Survey - Each year, the Census Bureau updates the estimates to reflect new information and assumptions about the growth of the population during the decade. Census 2010 count as the new population base. There were some methodological changes in the estimation process. The vast majority of the population change, however, is due to the change in base population from Census 2000 to Census 2010.]
[The usual practice is to not revise the official household survey estimates for December 2011 and earlier months. To show the impact of the population adjustment, however, differences in selected December 2011 labor force series based on the old and new population estimates are shown in table B.]
The adjustment increased
[-] the estimated size of the civilian noninstitutional population in December by 1,510,000,
[-]the civilian labor force by 258,000,
[-]employment by 216,000,
[-]unemployment by 42,000, and
[-]persons not in the labor force by 1,252,000.
Although the total unemployment rate was unaffected, the labor force participation rate and the employment-population ratio were each reduced by 0.3 percentage point. This was because the population increase was primarily among persons 55 and older and, to a lesser degree, persons 16 to 24 years of age. Both these age groups have lower levels of labor force participation than the general population."
End of quotes from THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JANUARY 2012
A final point:
So I wonder about
#1 - the changes to the questions on race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity -- two key demographics and both showed improvement in employment -- good news! for one counting on their votes,
#2 - the estimates to reflect new information and assumptions about the growth of the population during the decade,
#3 - the methodological changes in the estimation process, and
#4 - why the usual practice is to not revise the official household survey estimates for December of the prior year nevertheless differences that show improvements in key racial demographics (voters!) were included in THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- JANUARY 2012
I am sorry but I must respond.
I am not debating you. I am merely attempting to satisfy my own self that I can finally express my concerns.
OK, the age-related participation rates make sense. I know from personal experience that finding work in the mid-50s-plus is difficult and so of course the participation suffers.
As for the census and BLS adjustments v. people disappearing well one economist is quoted as saying (I think it's call Tweetting or something now): There was not a big increase in discouraged workers,' economist Betsey Stevenson commented on Twitter. 'What happened was Census found a bunch of old people we had assumed died.' Read more: http://advisorperspectives.com/dshort/guest/Lance-Roberts-120206-Not-in-Labor-Force-Analysis.php#ixzz1llXfZtKh
So somehow it was determined that all these old people were out there so we have to include them. Fine. My issue is HOW were they determined to be out there.
The two biggest adjustments to populations have been in 2000 and 2012 -- both Democratic incumbent presidents with connections to 1960s Marxist radicals (campus spoiled brats actually) and both election years with economic issues.
The population adjustments are estimates made year-to-year. Who really knows what's what and who's who?
Furthermore with the census adjusted, the "data used to estimate the labor force participation rate is obtained along with other labor force data from the monthly Current Population Survey conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics."
The CPS is a monthly survey of about 60000 households. The answers to the survey given by those households are interpreted largely by computers.
How the computer interprets is determined by tables. Those tables are populated by government GS employees. Those government GS employees answer to the White House.
There are no questions on the survey like "Are you marginally attached to . . . ?" The questions have to be interpreted to make determinations relevant to the purpose of the survey -- and I am saying to get the answers that the White House wants or at least as close as possible.