Monday, January 22, 2018
Politics

Unemployment manipulation impossible, says former Labor official

Manipulating the government's monthly unemployment report is impossible because of the large number of people — mostly civil servants and not political appointees — involved in compiling the data, said the former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"I think it would be impossible to really manipulate the numbers," said Keith Hall, who served from 2008 until earlier this year as commissioner of the independent statistical agency, which produces the report. "Certainly, it would be impossible to manipulate the numbers and not be found out."

After the BLS report Friday, former General Electric chief executive Jack Welch charged that the White House manipulated the numbers to distract from President Barack Obama's debate performance this week.

"Unbelievable jobs numbers … these Chicago guys will do anything … can't debate so change numbers," Welch tweeted.

Hall, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush and served through much of the Obama administration, said BLS commissioner is a nonpolitical position. The commissioner serves a four-year term and is not replaced by an incoming president.

During his four years as commissioner of the BLS, which is part of the Labor Department, Hall said he was never asked by the Bush or Obama White House to change any data.

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