Allen West: 'Is Someone Playing with Unemployment Numbers?'

Kate Hicks
Posted: Feb 03, 2012 6:46 PM

New numbers on the economy came out today, revealing some seemingly positive trends, such as a drop in the unemployment rate. One of these numbers is a major drop in black unemployment, from 15.8% to 13.6%, a huge jump. On the surface, it's good news.

Allen West, however, isn't having it -- he thinks someone may have tampered with the figures.

"Can someone tell me how employment in the black community has improved at a rate three times the national average in just a few months?? With numbers like today, urban communities should be well on their way to economic recovery then! There is something suspicious about the job numbers released today and it has me very concerned," West wondered Friday. "Is this dramatic supposed decrease in black unemployment a result of job creation or is someone playing around with the census numbers??"

The numbers presented indicate a massive drop, one that we've never seen before -- and one that doesn't seem to reflect actual experience. Even economists are questioning the numbers:

Economists reached by The Hill for comment couldn't fully explain the unemployment rate change for the black community. William Darity, a professor of public policy at Duke University specializing in African-American studies and economics, wrote in an email to The Hill that the decline could have been due to a smaller labor force. He called the drop an "unbelievably dramatic drop" but didn't rule out the possibility of someone tampering with the numbers; he said there was no evidence one way or the other.

"If a large proportion of the persons exiting from the labor force were black (and the exists [sic] presumably were due to people giving up on looking for work) that could drop the black [unemployment] rate without any significant new employment," Darity wrote. "But a one month drop in the black unemployment rate from 15.8% to 13.6% strikes me as somewhat unprecedented."

This explanation -- that the numbers indicate more people dropping out of the labor force, rather than finding jobs -- seems to be the most likely, especially since a record number of people dropped out of the labor force in one month.

[It] appears that the people not in the labor force exploded by an unprecedented record 1.2 million. No, that's not a typo: 1.2 million people dropped out of the labor force in one month! So as the labor force increased from 153.9 million to 154.4 million, the non institutional population increased by 242.3 million meaning, those not in the labor force surged from 86.7 million to 87.9 million. Which means that the civilian labor force tumbled to a fresh 30 year low of 63.7% as the BLS is seriously planning on eliminating nearly half of the available labor pool from the unemployment calculation. As for the quality of jobs, as withholding taxes roll over Year over year, it can only mean that the US is replacing high paying FIRE jobs with low paying construction and manufacturing. So much for the improvement.

Grim findings indeed, and at this point, it's almost better to hope that the numbers were tampered with -- surely, that's a better situation than mass drop off of employment seekers.