From “Jobs Report: Cooked Or Correct?,” Joe Nocera, NYT:
“It’s worth pointing out that the last time anyone accused the Bureau of Labor Statistics of being politically motivated was Richard Nixon.
“[T]he idea that a handful of career bureaucrats, their jobs secure no matter who is in the White House, would manipulate the unemployment data to help President Obama, is ludicrous. Jack Welch knows it, too; when I called him Friday afternoon, he quickly backpedaled. ‘I’m not accusing anybody of anything,’ he protested. [Welch had tweeted: “Unbelievable job numbers. These Chicago guys will do anything. Can’t debate so change numbers.”]
“[T]here is something truly absurd about having the presidential race hinge on the unemployment rate. Even putting aside the reliability of the short-term numbers, the harsh reality is that no president has much control over the economy. That is especially true of President Obama, whose every effort to boost the economy these past two years has been stymied by Republicans. Again and again, they have shown they would rather see the country suffer economically than do anything that might help Obama’s re-election.
“There is rough justice in the way things are playing out. Having spent the last year wrongly blaming the president for high unemployment, Republicans can only stand by helplessly as the unemployment rate goes down at the worst possible moment for them.
“But the data were largely overwhelmed by positive signals. In its revised figures for July and August, for instance, the bureau said that more jobs had been created than it originally estimated. People with only high school degrees were finding jobs. The number of people who had been out of work for six months or more was at its lowest point in three years.
“Whether the Republicans like it or not, the economy is slowly getting better.
“Awful, isn’t it?” Emphasis added.