Stats and Gimmicks

The writer of the following OpEdNews Nov. 8th article, Paul Craig Roberts, is an American economist and a former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He was also editor and columnist of the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service. Dr. Roberts has been a critic of both Democratic and Republican administrations.

His latest book, “HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST”, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. Here is the complete Nov. 8th article:

“If we cannot trust what the government tells us about weapons of mass destruction, terrorist events, and the reasons for its wars and bailouts, can we trust the government’s statement last Friday that the US economy gained 151,000 payroll jobs during October?

“Apparently not. After examining the government’s report, statistician John Williams ( reported that the jobs were ‘phantom jobs’ created by ‘current seasonal factor adjustments.’ In other words, the 151,000 jobs cannot be found in the unadjusted underlying data. The jobs were the product of seasonal adjustments concocted by the BLS (Bureau of labor Statistics).

“As usual, the financial press did no investigation and simply reported the number handed to the media by the government.

“The relevant information, the information that you need to know, is that the level of payroll employment today is below the level of 10 years ago. A smaller number of Americans are employed right now than were employed a decade ago.

“Think about what that means. We have had a decade of work-force growth from youngsters reaching working age and from immigration, legal and illegal, but there are fewer jobs available to accommodate a decade of work-force entrants than before the decade began.

“During two years from December 2007-December 2009, the US economy lost 8,363,000 jobs, according to the payroll jobs data. As of October 2010, payroll jobs, purportedly have increased by 874,000, an insufficient amount to keep up with labor force growth. However, John Williams reports that 874,000 is an overestimate of jobs as a result of the faulty ‘birth-death model,’ which overestimates new business start-ups during recessions and underestimates business failures. Williams says that the next benchmark revision due out next February will show a reduction in current employment by almost 600,000 jobs. This assumes, of course, that the BLS does not gimmick the benchmark revision. If Williams is correct, it is more evidence that the hyped recovery is non-existent.

“Discounting the war production shutdown at the end of World War II, which was not a recession in the usual sense, Williams reports that ‘the current annual decline (in employment) remains the worst since the Great Depression, and should deepen further.’

“In short, there is no employment data, and none in the works, unless gimmicked, that supports the recovery myth. The US rate of employment, if measured according to the methodology used in 1980, is 22.5 %. Even the government’s broader measure of unemployment stands at 17%. The 9.6% reported rate is a concocted measure that does not include discouraged workers who have been unable to find a job after 6 months and workers who want full time jobs but can only find part-time work.

“Another fact that is seldom, if ever, reported, is that the payroll jobs data reports the number of jobs, not the number of people with jobs. Some people hold two jobs; thus, the payroll report does not give the number of employed people.

“The BLS household survey measures the number of people with jobs. The same October that reported 151,000 new payroll jobs reported, according to the household survey, a loss of 330,000 jobs.

“The American working class has been destroyed. The American middle class is in its final stages of destruction. Soon the bottom rungs of the rich themselves will be destroyed. The entire way through this process, the government will lie and the media will lie.

“The United State of America has become the country of the Big Lie. Those who facilitate government and corporate lies are well rewarded, but anyone who tells any truth or expresses an impermissible opinion is excoriated and driven away.

“But we ‘have freedom and democracy.’ We are the virtuous, indispensable nation, the salt of the earth – the light unto the world.” –

Wikipedia – “On March 26, 2010, in a farewell column titled, ‘Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It,’ Roberts effectively announced his journalistic retirement. The article, published at, begins: “There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest.’ It proceeds to a bitter chronicle of the demise of American intellectual integrity, particularly that of financial journalists and economists. These have been thoroughly corrupted by monetary inducements to misrepresent and ignore what has been, in effect, the dismantling of the nation’s productive life, in the name of globalization. He holds the members of his own journalistic profession largely responsible for abetting relentless outsourcing of American industry, thereby gutting the American middle class and effectively dooming the nation’s future. He describes his own ostracism from mainstream media access, the consequence of his relentless and unflinching criticism of the demolition process over the past decade. His column ends, ‘The militarism of the U.S. and Israeli states, and Wall Street and corporate greed, will now run their course. As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off.’

“Shortly thereafter, however, he resumed writing articles”. –

Thank goodness!