Our view: Charge of doctored data is ‘preposterous’

DKS Editors

Conservative business and political leaders latched onto conspiracy theories during the weekend about Friday’s jobs report, showing unemployment falling to 7.8 percent with 114,000 new jobs.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch started the conversation five minutes after the unemployment report was released, tweeting, “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.”

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) backed Welch on his Facebook page — saying the numbers were manipulated to boost President Barack Obama’s campaign a month from the election — but Labor Secretary Hilda Solis quickly defended the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ process and integrity.

“I’m insulted when I hear that, because we have a very professional civil service… have the highest regard for our professionals that do the calculations at the [Bureau of Labor Statistics]. They are trained economists,” Solis said on CNBC.

Though the timing of the unemployment rate drop is convenient for Obama’s campaign, we believe Solis and trust that a federal bureau wouldn’t doctor its data. The BLS economists are not political appointees, and because of an intense review process, no one person has enough influence to change the data significantly.

The bureau’s data is assessed by a computer program that identifies peculiarities, which economists review for accuracy, said BLS economist John Mullins. The data are then reviewed by supervisory staff to make sure the analysis is based on sound, statistical data, and over the course of the year, it’s cross-checked with state unemployment data — which would reveal any inaccuracies.

“Anyone who understands the process and statistics knows how preposterous the charge of doctoring is,” Mullins said in an interview with AOL Jobs. “And I will add that we’re all professionals, and we take pride in this not being political.”

For those with lingering doubts: The process is open and transparent, and all the information can be found at www.bls.gov.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board