On Friday, the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate had fallen three-tenths of a percent, from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, a pivotal but increasingly criticized statistic suggesting the economy is improving with just a month to go until the presidential election.
General Electric CEO Jack Welch promptly accused the White House of playing fast and loose with the data to strengthen President Barack Obama’s political position, and Florida Republican Rep. Allen West echoed that criticism on Friday’s broadcast of CNBC’s “Power Lunch” with host Tyler Mathisen.
“It’s not about believing what Mr. Welch says,” West said. “It is about studying the numbers and understanding that I continue to see these inconsistencies, we continue to see revisions of the numbers upwards and downwards. When I look at these numbers compared to the workforce participation rate, which still remains at a 30-year low, when I look at these numbers of the 7.8 percent that you compare this to the U6 computation, which takes into account unemployed, underemployed and discouraged workers, that U6 computation number did not move. It stayed at 14.7 percent.”
Mathisen took issue with West’s claim and argued that the integrity of the administration’s data was not in question.
“If you would stop yelling in my ear and allow me to answer your questions, maybe we could get to the bottom of this,” West said. “When I look at the GDP numbers, which have gone from 4.1 percent and went to 1.9 percent, then it was a 1.7 percent. It got revised down just about a month ago to 1.3 percent. We’ve got numbers that are all over the place. We don’t understand really the direction this economy is going.”
West then offered Mathisen data from his South Florida congressional district that show that the economy is still struggling. But Mathisen likened West’s accusation to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s baseless insinuation that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had not paid taxes in several years.
“Did the workforce participation rate change?” West asked. “No. It’s still a 30-year low. Did the U6 computation 14.7 percent change? No. so how is it that we had a drop of three-tenths of a percentage point on the unemployment rate if these other statistics which related to that do not change? And don’t challenge my intelligence, because I tell you, it wasn’t too long ago that we were being told that a video was the imminence for this spontaneous attack that ended up killing an ambassador [in Libya]. So there are a lot of questions that come out of this administration. I’m not talking about impeachment. I just want someone to come clean with the process and methodology because there is a lot of inconsistencies.”
(h/t The Right Scoop)