As if on cue, the weekly unemployment numbers came out just as Mr. Welch’s piece in the most important paper in the English-speaking world made its appearance, and the news was great — except that, as we know now, California, home to 12 percent of America, didn’t report its numbers.
While most of the major media dutifully headlined the good jobs news, a few news outlets did some old-fashioned reporting. Fox Business reported in a story titled, “Jobless claims data skewed downward,” that, “A sharp drop in the number of weekly jobless claims filed last week was caused by the failure of one large state to report all of its claims.”
What’s this? A widely reported drop in the important weekly unemployment claims might have been a mirage? What state failed to report?
Alarmed that the truth might leak out, Media Matters, a left-wing blog, weighed in with heavy ridicule to keep the press in line, labeling skepticism of the government’s numbers “Jobs Trutherism,” while going after Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney for “echoing a conspiracy theory pushed by the right last week accusing the Obama administration of manipulating unemployment data.”
It looks like Media Matters owes Mr. Varney an apology for actually reporting the truth.
As a former member of California’s investigative legislative committee, I wonder if the California Employment Development Department’s strong denial of unemployment data manipulation, proven untrue in exactly seven days, will get a pass from Gov. Jerry Brown and my former colleagues.
In the meantime California, which is running a $16 billion deficit and is in desperate need of another federal bailout, has one more well-timed chance to skew the weekly first-time claims for unemployment report that will be issued the day before the national unemployment report on November 2.
Imagine what California policymakers could do on the job-creation front if, instead of focusing on cooking the unemployment books, indulging in creative government accounting, hiking taxes, and imposing steep fees on greenhouse gasses, they lowered taxes and kept job-killing regulations in check.
Sadly, what’s been largely lost in the discussion over the official unemployment rate is that welfare rolls have spiked 32 percent over the past four years as people have gotten discouraged from looking for work, with the official barometer of unemployment resting at 14.7 percent when Americans with part-time jobs are included in the calculation.
It’s no coincidence that the one state with consistently strong employment growth since the recession is low-tax, light-regulation Texas.
Chuck DeVore is Vice President of Communications for the Texas Public Policy Foundation and served as a State Assemblyman in California from 2004 to 2010.