Jack Welch Tweet Attacking Jobs Numbers Roils the Economic And Political World


It's the tweet that launched 1,000 right-wing conspiracy claims, as if we didn't already have more than we could use.

Minutes after the U.S. Department of Labor reported Friday that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September, from 8.1 percent, Jack Welch, the iconic former GE chief, tweeted the untweetable: "Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers."

Strong accusation. The monthly jobs and unemployment report is the sacred cow of official data, guarded so closely that reporters must give up their devices and remain in a locked room before the 8:30 a.m. release time on the first Friday of every month.

Welch, in his desperation to remain in the news — and yes, I'm helping him here — attacked one of the bedrocks of industrial economies: our trust in objective, official information. With Welch's prestige giving cover to the idiotic notion that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is corrupt, all sorts of anti-Obama wags and pundits raised the numbers conspiracy charge on Friday, despite the BLS's impeccable record of integrity, if not accuracy.

It's an irresponsible charge on many levels, starting with the obvious fact that if the Obama administration was cooking the books, it would not have let out month after month of lousy numbers. And, as Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute said, as he called the charges "slanderous lies," a book-cooking BLS would have at least doubled the lukewarm total of 114,000 jobs created in September.

Welch, who has bought his name onto business schools around the country, including Sacred Heart University here in Connecticut, later told Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball that he has no evidence of crookery, but a gain of 873,000 people claiming to be working doesn't make sense. "These numbers defy logic," he said.

Welch ran Fairfield-based General Electric for 20 years until 2001, with financial results that raised suspicions over accounting, and still do years later, because GE beat Wall Street expectations almost without fail — reportedly by moving money to and from the GE Capital unit.

Adding to the irony of Welch's charge is that just last week, the BLS revised its job-creation totals upward for the year ending in March by 386,000. And the last three months of totals have also been revised upward after the fact — not the sign of an administration that's cheating.

On one point, I agree with Welch completely. His tweet immediately before the jobs bombshell said, "Valentine had to go ..He didn't have the performance or the values( behaviors)."

Let Welch stick to baseball, philanthropy and management consulting. He and the rest of the anti-government crowd, most of whom feed more than their share at the public trough, should shut their pie holes when it comes to government data until they produce some evidence.

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