Told you so


Last night I said today’s numbers would be lower than predicted based upon the coverage on I said 71,000 and the real number is 96,000, so at least it wasn’t as bad as I predicted. But this isn’t the first time I’ve called this behavior.

Intentional spin on someone’s part? I don’t know. That would be SO UNLIKE people. Especially during October of an election season.

I’m sure a lot of Kerry supporters will breath a sigh of relief that the economy continues to operate at less than optimum. (“Whew! Dodged another good news report on the employment situation! Hooray!”) Don’t pretend that they’re not thinking it.

And remember this about all the jobs lost since Bush took office in 2001:

Yes, Mabel. That’s MORE jobs, not less. It’s the population growth outpacing job creation that makes the unemployment numbers look like they do. There’s no doubt that it’s a concern, but everyone just latches onto the statistics that support their cause. Like I have by choosing to display the Current Population Survey totals rather than the Current Employment Statistics survey. The CES shows a loss of 821,000 jobs over the same period.

Pick your poison.

And if you’re going to wager money on the employment reports, keep an eye on’s coverage the day before. Just a tip.


  1. I’m not sure this is really a ‘pick your poison’ type situation here. The Current Population Survey is a survey of 60,000 households (approximately 0.2% of the population). The Current Employment Survey is based on payroll records of 160,000 companies that BLS estimates covers about a third of U.S. jobs. I think one of these is clearly more likely to be accurate than the other. Its pretty standard for politicians (both parties) and demographers to focus on the CES numbers for employment data, since the data is much more robust. CPS is used for unemployment data (since CES does not try to track who does not have a job). Why do you think the Whitehouse hasn’t made the same argument you have? Because it doesn’t prove your point if only the less accurate data supports it.

  2. Strike Three! Chuck has struck out MO on three pitches! Uncle! I agree with why the WH isn’t making the argument that I am. In fact, even I’m not really making the argument that I am since I clearly pointed out the inconsistency with the CES. The CPS is where the unemployment rate comes from, though, and that gets touted a lot. Especially when it hurts the current president (whoever it is at the time). As for ‘pick your poison’, I’d wager that Bush opponents would be using the CPS instead if it showed job losses and the CES showed job gains. And I’d be using CES numbers in my little tables instead. DISCLAIMER: For the record, with the exception of the tax cuts, I’m pretty much 100% opposed to Bush’s domestic policy. As a Conservative, I don’t understand why the Dems are so against Bush’s domestic policy. But the tax cuts are a biggie for me, and the foreign policy trumps all at this point.

  3. AND ANOTHER THING! I was really just posting about the fact that’s pre-release reporting seems to be an eerie indicator of what the results will be. I’ve only been watching for a few months, but it’s still sort of weird…

  4. Again, I’m usually not this critical on your site. I guess I’m extra sensitive today or something. The reason unemployment rate comes from CPS is that it is the only survey that also tracks people who do not have jobs. CES only tracks people who have jobs (because it is based on payroll tax data reported to states). If you talk to a demographer or economist, they would tell you that the sample size of CPS is too low, so it has a pretty wide margin of error. I would be surprised to see either side using CPS data for total employment numbers. That’s the kind of thing the press and the opposition jumps all over. ‘In order to prove his point, my opponent needs to use figures that are generally accepted by economists, and even the government statitisticians who prepare them, to be less accurate.’

  5. Yes, but the unemployment rate itself is a major selling point for one side or the other. And I guess I haven’t really noticed that the accuracy of statistics is as important as the message they convey. To the media, the government, or the population at large. Unfortunate, but that’s the way I see it. And, despite my melodrama, I welcome all the criticism and differing view points I can get as long as they’re rational. Yours definitely are, so I appreciate them greatly.

  6. Just dropping by to see if you were doing a ‘told ya so’, and unsurprised to see that you did, as you were again correct. Have you really only been following the ‘MSNBC as leading indicator’ indicator for a few months? I’d swear that this is more than just the second or third time you’ve nailed it.