Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cooking the Books at the Department of Labor

The chart at the left, courtesy of Data 360 reveals an amazing phenomenon that occurred in the first year of Obama's presidency.  For the first time since 1948 (the start date for this analysis) the number of people in the Civilian Labor Force, as reported by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, saw 7 of the 12 months report a decrease in the number of people in the Civilian Labor Force relative to the figure 12 months earlier.  Through all of the boom and bust times since 1948, one thing that remained inexorably constant was that the number of people in the US Civilian Labor Force always moved up, year after year.  Through wars, recessions, the dot-com bubble and burst...through 9/11.  Always, more people were added to the Civilian work force.  Our population grew, as did our projected life spans so it is reasonable that we would see an ever-upward march of this data.

Until 2009...

In the 20 years leading up to the Obama inauguration (Dec '88 - Dec '08) the number of people recorded by the US Department of Labor in the Civilian Labor Force grew from 122,612K to 154,587K - an average annual growth of 0.26%.  During the 8 years of the Bush presidency, the overall annual growth rate in the Civilian Labor Force was 7.19% with specific yearly growths of: 0.06%, 1.43%, 0.60%, 0.78%, 1.46%, 1.93%, 0.68%, 0.06%.

But in 2009, the number of people in the US Civilian Labor Force dropped from 154,587K to 153,059K.  Just as a reminder, these numbers define the size of the total civilian work force - not who is actually employed (that comes later). 1,528,000 people vanished from the Civilian Labor Force in 2009, according to the DoL numbers. 

Going back to 1948, there have only been 31 time within the 734 rolling-12-month periods in which the number of people documented by the DoL in the Civilian Labor Force was lower than it was 12 months earlier (once in 1949;  eight times in 1951; five times in 1952; once in 1954; once in 1955; once in 1957; and seven times in '61-'62 before the Kennedy tax cuts kicked in). 

There has not been a month since July 1962 in which the number of persons employed in the Civilian Work Force was lower than  it was 12-months earlier. That is, until Obama's DoL started reporting the numbers.

The numbers reported by Mr. Obama's DoL have had seven such "anomalies" out of 12.  Since June 2009, when the number of persons listed in the Civilian Work Force peaked at 154,351K (and at which time it became clear that the "stimulus" would serve only to retard private sector job growth), the DoL numbers for the Civilian Work Force have trended down every month since. The January jobs report was the first time since June '09 where the DoL reported a growth in the Civilian Work Force relative to the month before (In this case, 153,170K in Jan '10 - the same number it was in July '07.)

Whereas the nation as a whole could be counted on to report a growth in the Civilian Work Force over the preceding 12 months 95.8% of the time since 1948, in Mr. Obama's DoL, we see a reported growth in the Civilian Work Force only 41.7% of the time.

So, enough of this inside baseball stuff. What does this mean?

If, instead of accepting the numbers presented by DoL for 2009, we extrapolated the Dec '08 figure by the actual growth rate from '88 - '08, we would have seen a reported Civilian Work Force in Dec '09 of 154, 988K instead of the reported 153, 059K.  With only 137, 753K people actually working, we would have seen the reported unemployment rate jump to 11.12% (as opposed to the 10.0% reported by the DoL).  An 11.12% unemployment rate would have been politically poisonous for the Keynsian economic team surrounding Obama.

So instead, it appears that they have "changed the denominator" instead.  Go against the inexorable march of data and see if anyone is really paying attention. This just smells of cooking the books. 

What we do know, is in  Jan '09, when BHO began cramming down our throats, what would become the $787B  'stimulus" spending on pet liberal projects and, worse, on bribes to states into making Faustian bargains, there were 142,271K Americans employed.  One year later, and $3T deeper in debt, we have only 138,313K Americans working - a loss of 3.958 million jobs.  When you consider the number of government jobs created in that time frame (145,800 new Federal government jobs in 2009 - not including the Post Office), the impact to the private sector is even worse.

Radical Keynsian policy is the reason for this collapse in the private jobs market.  More government spending, like pouring gasoline on a fire, will only make matters worse - as history records in the 1934 - 1937 period shows.  

Cooking the books at DoL will only hide the lie so long.

1. Data360
2. Department of Labor Burea of Labor Statistics Economic Releases Table A-1. Employment Status of the Civilian Population by sex and age
3.  Department of Labor Burea of Labor Statistics Economic Releases Table B.1 Employees on nonfarm payrolls by industry sector and selected industry detail
4.  Families would take hit under HHS plan
The stimulus law gave Toumpas’ agency (NH HHS) more than a $200 million windfall this year, but it came with strings attached. The law doesn’t permit states to cut benefits for those who had been receiving them or to change standards of eligibility. The only viable option in most cases is for Toumpas to try to get most of the savings by cutting payments to providers.