Employment Data and the Invisible Thumb

As one who spends a lot of time looking at policy-related data and analyzing arguments of political theory, I’ll say it sucks when you come across something that starts the conspiracy bells ringing. I’ve touched on the reason before: We’ve gone from believing that the crazy guy might have some insight, if we could just translate his lunacy, to believing that lunacy is conditioned but produces no insight.

Put in plain terms, though, a “conspiracy” is just people doing something they don’t want anybody to know about, and “they wouldn’t do that” isn’t a defense that stands without evidence.

The instance that I have in mind is the post from March in which I charted the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ revisions to employment numbers, producing a strange curve leading up to the 2012 presidential election.  Basically, if we consider the revised numbers to be better, then the drop in unemployment right before the election was largely a function of the number of employed Americans’ going from dramatically under-counted to more accurate.

I posted the chart in the spirit of, “huh, that’s interesting.”  Via Instapundit, though, comes an article by John Crudele in the New York Post that says:

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.

We’re reviewing anonymous sources, here, so more evidence would be prudent to collect, but the initial question is this: Would an administration and bureaucracy that let guns walk to drug cartels, targeted Tea Party groups via the IRS, shared confidential tax information across departments, lied about the circumstances of Benghazi, lied about ObamaCare, spied on journalists, and collects countless digital transmissions do something like this?

Actually, in that context, putting a thumb on the employment statistics scale seems rather mild.

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