President Donald Trump and his administration continue to claim former President Barack Obama and his team manipulated the employment reports during his term.
However, despite whatever manipulation Trump claims occurred in the past, he insists it is gone now, and the reports are real.
In a recent press conference, White House Secretary Sean Spicer explained the president’s stance on the issue.
“I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly: ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it's very real now,’” Spicer said.
In fact, Trump was very supportive of the latest employment report’s numbers.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! pic.twitter.com/FUwemhEaDK
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 14, 2017
And now, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney joined in, saying he long thought the Obama administration manipulated numbers to make the unemployment rate look smaller, according to an article by Jill Disis for CNN Money.
From the article:
"What you should really look at is the number of jobs created," Mulvaney said on "State of the Union." "We've thought for a long time, I did, that the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers, in terms of the number of people in the workforce, to make the unemployment rate — that percentage rate — look smaller than it actually was."
Trump once claimed that he had "heard" the rate could be as high as 42% — even though at the time it was about 5%.
The reality is that economist do, in fact, debate over the best way to calculate unemployment data. The current calculation is put out by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and uses two surveys – one given to households and the other sent out to businesses.
Friday’s report showed unemployment unchanged at 4.7%, its 18th consecutive month below 5%. But the report also tracks the labor participation rate, which came in at 63%, unchanged from the previous month.
Is the current measure the best way to track unemployment? Some might answer no, however the method hasn’t changed since Trump took office.
From CNN’s article:
"During the four years I served as commissioner, the administration didn't try to manipulate the numbers at all," said Erica Groshen, who served as BLS commissioner from January 2013 to January 2017.
The agency has used the same method for calculating the unemployment rate since 1940.