Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch caused a stir on Twitter Friday morning when he suggested the latest unemployment figures, showing the jobless rate below 8 percent for the first time in months, were manipulated.
“Unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything…can’t debate so change numbers” he wrote on twitter, implying that the Obama administration manipulated the unemployment numbers to make them better to compensate for his terrible performance at the debate Wednesday night.
Immediately, he drew a firestorm of criticism.
Felix Salmon, a financial writer for Reuters, responded by tweeting: “I’ll give @jack_welch this: he is now way ahead of @rupertmurdoch in the crazy-old-man-on-twitter league tables.”
Economist Austan Goolsbee tweeted, “love ya jack but here you’ve lost your mind.”
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who oversees the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fought back against Welch’s comment.
“You know, I’m insulted when I hear that because we have a very professional, civil service organization where you have top, top economists that work at the BLS,” she said on CNBC. “These are our best trained and best-skilled individuals working in the BLS, and it’s really ludicrous to hear that kind of statement.”
Later Felix Salmon did a follow up tweet, “Apparently @jack_welch ‘is now unavailable for the rest of the day in meetings’” citing a Bloomberg News article.
Welch was not the only person to express skepticism in the new unemployment numbers.
Managing director of investment strategy for Wells Fargo in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ron Florance told Reuters, “It’s a little confusing, to be honest with you. The number of jobs created wasn’t that high but the unemployment rate came down and the participation rate went up a little bit, so it’s confusing.”
“All in all, it doesn’t change the trajectory of what the jobs environment has been really for the last year. We continue to increase jobs but not at a rate that is fast enough to significantly change the unemployment picture for American workers.”
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