End the duopoly

Why the May job numbers were screwed up and how to read economic data in the coronavirus era

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 13.3% in May, and 2.5 million jobs were added — but the rate was underestimated by 3 points due to the way the numbers were collected.

The May employment report was a shocker. Jobs were added instead of being lost, while the unemployment rate came in well below expectations. Were the numbers correct, wrong or manipulated?

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The answer is none of the above. The economic data mills are operating in an environment that makes collection of the numbers difficult and the interpretation of the results problematic.

First, let’s get out of the way the idea that just because a number doesn’t meet expectations or is beneficial or harmful to a political candidate, it had to have been manipulated.

As far as the government’s statistics go, that can be answered with an unequivocal no; politics played — and will continue to play — absolutely no role in the creation of the numbers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is responsible for the […]

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