It is a sad statement about either American politics or American sanity that when today's jobs report showed the unemployment falling below 8% for the first time in Obama's presidency, the reaction from some administration critics was: The numbers are cooked!
The conspiracy claims are beyond silly, as my colleague David Graham explained today. But the employment-truthers are right about one thing. No number in this jobs report is to be trusted.
They're all wrong, probably.
The reason why isn't a cover-up that reaches into the highest levels of government. There's a more prosaic reason you should be wary about the precise numbers in each jobs report -- and especially in a first estimate of the previous month. Each report represents a statistical estimate that will be repeatedly revised. Just about every number in today's jobs report will probably change in the next few months.
The proof that you shouldn't trust any initial number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is right here ... in today's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised from +141,000 to +181,000, and the change for August was revised from +96,000 to +142,000.
The BLS is telling us, basically, that it messed up. The first guesses for job creation in July and August were really wrong. In fact, 86,000 people got jobs that weren't counted at first.