How the Federal Government Got into the Economic Data Business

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The unemployment line at the FDR memorial in Washington, D.C. (Kate Ure/flickr)

The September jobs report finally arrived today, delayed nearly three weeks because of the government shutdown.

The September jobless numbers show unemplyment down to 7.2% while the US economy added a relatively tepid 148 thousand new jobs. 

The numbers show that the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.2 percent, though the U.S. economy added a relatively tepid 148,000 new jobs.

Despite the shutdown, the economy kept bumping along without the federal unemployment numbers, data on consumer pricing, or producer pricing. Is the private economy really so dependent on government data? How did the government get into the economic data business in the first place? Should we be looking at data from other sources?

Heidi Moore, finance and economics editor for The Guardian U.S., examines the history and credibility of federal economic data.


Heidi Moore

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [2]

Mike from Calirornia

I said the same thing. I expected this from Fox News not NPR. This comment was just innuendo with no evidence.

Oct. 22 2013 11:05 PM
Andrew from Miami

Who was the interviewer?
Toward the end of the interviewer, in his question he implied that because of political exigencies, that maybe, just maybe, the federal government economic data (gathered by independent government agencies such as the BLS) might be suspect. This was thrown out there without a shred of evidence. Very Glenn Beckian of him -- 'I'm just asking a question', or 'Some people have said...' Maybe the interviewer didn't read the ridiculous tweets from Jack Welch many months ago maligning employment numbers because, I don't know, 'they just didn't feel right'! Hint: when you make accusations, you need backup. There was none forthcoming because there is no backup. High school papers do it better than this. I was embarrassed.

Oct. 22 2013 05:32 PM

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