Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Census Relied on 'Manufactured' Data for Pre-Election Jobs Report

We have a word for that in science.  We call it, get this, fraud.

Census ‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report
In the home stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign, from August to September, the unemployment rate fell sharply — raising eyebrows from Wall Street to Washington.

The decline — from 8.1 percent in August to 7.8 percent in September — might not have been all it seemed. The numbers, according to a reliable source, were manipulated.

And the Census Bureau, which does the unemployment survey, knew it.

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.

Or as Stacy McCain says: Remember Those Official Unemployment Numbers? They Just Made ‘Em Up!

That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is, we don't know.

Something like this could be an isolated incident, a single lazy employee, or it could be a systematic problem with the census system.  There should be safeguards in place to back check for instances of 'data creation,' for example, resampling some fraction of the contact to make sure they were, in fact, contacted in the first place.  We need an investigation to find out how prevalent the problem is.
In one document from the probe, Program Coordinator Joal Crosby was ask in 2010, “Why was the suspected … possible data falsification on all (underscored) other survey work for which data falsification was suspected not investigated by the region?”

On one document seen by The Post, Crosby hand-wrote the answer: “Unable to determine why an investigation was not done for CPS,” or the Current Population Survey — the official name for the unemployment report.
Why not? Because it would be inconvenient to have this come out close to the election.  And as Glenn Reynolds points out, the Obama administration took direct control over the Census Bureau in one of it's earliest acts of power consolidation.  He who controls the data controls the debate.

Now, I'm sure that the large majority of the Census employees are honest data gatherers and handlers, however, it doesn't take too many bad apples to make the whole barrel stink.  The only way to keep it clean is to go through the barrel frequently and throw the bad ones out

I'm also sure the vast majority of Census employees are pro-government, democratically inclined folk.  There's some chance that they are unwilling to consider and look for possible fraudulent data.  Perhaps the Census Bureau is also in need of my "modest proposal" for fixing the IRS bureaucracy:
What I propose is affirmative action with regard to politics. Congress must pass a law that stipulates that the new hiring for any agency must consist of liberals, conservatives, libertarians and communist in proportion to their representation in the voting population of the country (not the region the federal jobs occur in, which would tend to also be very liberal). Thus, in time, conservatives could expect to claim approximately half of the federal jobs in the county.

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