Could the Labor Statistics be Rigged?

I just posted at comment at in response to an article written earlier this year regarding data rigging. The conclusion of the article was that data are noisy, but rigging is not the issue. This, of course is all relevant given the Tweeter, Jack Welch‘s comment accusing the “Chicago boys” of manipulating the data. As Joe Nocera points out in his column today, the last accusation of employment data manipulation was by Richard Nixon of the BLS under his own administration when the numbers were more negative than he would have liked. I am not surprised that a former corporate CEO, particularly Jack Welch, would have so quickly jumped to a data manipulation accusation. Most public company CEOs are quite used to data massaging at least once a quarter to satisfy the stock market. I guess they must assume that everyone else does the same to meet objectives other than accuracy. Below is the posted comment to the Marketplace article.

If one looks at the history of revisions of economic data ranging from GDP to Labor Stats there is a pretty consistent picture. When the economy is declining the revisions tend to be negative. At turning points the revisions are noisy. And, in improving economies the revisions are usually positive. This is not always the case, but usually. We are in a slowly improving economy. The ADP employment reports which even Jack Welch, the tweeter, wouldn’t accuse of being rigged, have been better than the numbers from the labor department prior to revisions. The labor situation is quite dynamic—4 million people leave jobs and take jobs every month. The difference between those two represents the increase or decrease in jobs “created.” Take a look at, to get some more info on this. Whoever is president for the next four years will get credit for the continued improvement unless the crazies in Washington don’t deal with the Fiscal Cliff. I am optimistic.

This entry was posted in 2012 economy, Economy, General Interest, Jobs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , by Jack Rivkin. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jack Rivkin

Jack Rivkin retired in 2008 as EVP, CIO, Head of Private Asset Management of Neuberger Berman(NB) and from NB's Executive Management Committee. He was also on the Lehman(LB) Council on Climate Change(CC) and the NB CC Fund Advisory Board. He has been engaged with the United Nations and other entities on policy issues related to Private Capital and CC. He is an Associate Fellow of the Asia Society. He has continued on the NB Mutual Fund Board and with his CC responsibilities. He began his investment career in 68 as an analyst at Mitchell Hutchins(MH), and became Director of Research(DOR) there. After Paine Webber(PW) acquired MH, he served as DOR; CFO of PW; CEO of PWMH-the equity trading and investment arm of PW; Chmn of MH Asset Management and President of PW Capital. 87-92 he was DOR and, subsequently, Head of the Worldwide Equities Division of LB. 93-95, he served as a Vice Chairman and DOR at Smith Barney (now Citigroup). He was an EVP with Citigroup Investments 94-01, responsible for private equity investments. He was also an adjunct professor at Columbia University teaching a course in Security Analysis. He joined NB in 2002. He is the co-author of “Risk & Reward—Venture Capital and the Making of America’s Great Industries,” Random House, 1987. He is a regular guest on various media. He is the principal subject in a series of Harvard Business School cases describing his experience as DOR and Equity Head at LB. He has served as a director of a number of private companies and the NYSSA. He is currently a director of Idealab, Dale Carnegie, Operative, World Policy Institute and other private companies. He is a member of the Economic Club of NY, the Anglers Club, Theodore Gordon Fly Fishers, and a lifetime member of Trout Unlimited. He continues to be an active private equity investor when he isn’t fly fishing. Mr. Rivkin earned his Professional Engineering degree from the Colorado School of Mines and his MBA from the Harvard Business School

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