Unemployment dropped to 7.8 this morning, prompting former General Electric CEO Jack Welch to call “fraud” and accuse the Obama administration of manipulating the numbers to improve the president’s favorability following a poor debate performance.
Welch’s comments, which originated on Twitter, have found traction within conservative conspiratorial circles. Controversial Republican congressman Allen West reflected a similar perspective on his Facebook, saying that “somehow by manipulation of data” the Obama administration turned out some slightly positive economic information.
Other conservative figures have treated the Friday report with skepticism as well. Generation Opportunity President Paul Conway, former US Department of Labor Chief of Staff, told Business Insider that people have a right to suspect foul play with the new numbers due to the convenient timing (at the height of election season and just after President Obama’s debate loss to opponent Mitt Romney.
“To have a drop of 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent and have your job-creation number at 114 thousand, at best, it’s interesting. At worst, yeah, it is suspicious,” Conway said. “And when you look at the timetable, the onus is on the Department of Labor to explain it.”
Enter the Department of Labor, “to explain it.” Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said that “It’s really ludicrous to hear that kind of statement,” continuing, “We have to look at across the board, not just one month.” Solis also added that she has “the highest regard for our professionals that do the calculus.”
Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers
— Jack Welch (@jack_welch) October 5, 2012
Jobs #s from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are total pro-Obama propaganda–labor force participation rate at 30-yr low. Abysmal!
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) October 5, 2012
I don’t think BLS cooked numbers. I think a bunch of Dems lied about getting jobs. That would have same effect.
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) October 5, 2012
Though the theory is catching fire with conservative pundits, The Hill reports that the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign are distancing themselves from it, instead focusing on the negatives in Friday’s jobs report:
“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Romney said. “We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we’ve lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office. If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent.”
Is Welch right? Do you think that the BLS manipulated Friday’s jobs report or is all of the smoke just a knee-jerk right-wing conspiracy theory in response to positive economic news?