November 19, 2013, 10:48 am
GOP to probe claim of ‘faked’ jobs report
By Peter Schroeder
The House Oversight Committee is vowing to thoroughly investigate a report that unemployment data was falsified months before the 2012 presidential election.
The New York Post reported Monday evening that a Census Bureau employee had been found fabricating unemployment survey data that helped determine the nation’s jobless rate.
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) told The Hill Tuesday that the Oversight panel plans to probe the findings, which he called “extremely serious.”
“The allegation that data gathered by the Census Bureau is being manipulated for any reason is extremely serious. The Oversight Committee has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau and will be thoroughly investigating these claims,” he said in a statement.
Farenthold chairs the Oversight subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Census. A Census spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The unemployment rate is calculated by the Labor Department based on survey data of 60,000 households, conducted by the Census.
The Post report claimed that a Census employee fabricated data for survey respondents he could not contact. The employee, Julius Buckmon, told the publication he was told to do so by superiors, and the report claims there were multiple employees doing the same.
Buckmon said he was not told how to answer questions for nonrespondents, including whether they were employed, unemployed, or looking for work, and it was not clear from the initial report whether any fabrication contributed to a lower unemployment rate.
The claim comes after some claimed the government fudged unemployment numbers in the months before the election. Former General Electric Chairman Jack Welch was thrust into the spotlight when he cast doubt on a surprising report one month before the election, which found the unemployment rate dipped from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent.
“Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers,” he tweeted.
Several economists from both sides of the aisle defended the numbers and methodology in which they were gathered.
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who went on to lose his reelection bid, also charged the Obama administration was manipulating the data.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who left the agency in 2013, said she was “insulted” by the claims when they occurred. And White House Spokesman Josh Earnest called them “utter nonsense.”