Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Corruption at the BLS?

I don't think I have to go into why it is important to be able to trust government-produced statistics.  Obviously, any data will have its share of errors, mistakes, and shortcomings, but we should be able to trust that the data are provided honestly.  In my years of using such data, I have never believed otherwise.

Two recent stories, however, call into question the honesty and incorruptibility of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides practically all official data about the labor market, including the unemployment rate and payroll employment, as well as inflation.  First comes the accusation that someone within the BLS has been leaking official data to the governor of North Carolina in advance of its official release. If true, the perpetrator is subject to years in federal prision.  Second, it appears that the Administration plans to politicize the BLS by appointing political operatives to run it rather than promoting career professionals from within.