House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) told Fox News on Wednesday that he would hold hearings into the September job numbers, buying into a widely-discredited conspiracy theory that President Obama faked last month’s figure to improve his re-election chances.
After the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released an unexpectedly strong monthly jobs report last Friday — finding a dramatic drop in unemployment to 7.8 percent and revised the number of jobs added in July and August up from initial estimates, a group of conservatives led by former GE CEO Jack Welch — suggested that the numbers could have been fudged. Issa has now promised to look into the matter:
FOX HOST: We asked [Issa] … whether or not he was concerned about Friday’s jobs report and that big drop in the unemployment rate from 8.1% to 7.8%, which some economists have called fluky and as a result there have been questions about the Labor Department’s methodology in calculating the unemployment report. Now, Chairman Issa says he wants to have hearings on this, take a listen.
ISSA: The way it is being done with the constant revisions, significant revisions, tells us that it is not as exact science as it needs to be and there’s got to be a better way to get those numbers or don’t put them out if they’re going to be wrong by as much as half a point.
FOX HOST: Now, Greta [van Susteren] asked him when he wants to have these hearings…and he said, that, “we very much intend to work every day through November and December to get these kind of things done. We’re hoping that this is a good nonpartisan time,” he said.
BLS has flatly dismissed the allegation. “The data are not manipulated for political reasons. I’ve been involved in the process myself for almost three decades. There’s never been any political manipulation of the data, period,” Steve Haugen, an economist at the BLS, told CBSNews.com. BLS “does not at the moment have a single political appointee working in the entire agency,” he added.
An Issa spokesperson told the Huffington Post that the Chairman has not yet scheduled the hearing. “While Chairman Issa, in response to a question asked yesterday, did state that he believes there are legitimate questions about the Department of Labor’s method for calculating unemployment, the Oversight Committee has not announced or decided to hold hearings on the September unemployment report…. At no point did he say he has made plans to convene a hearing on this subject.”
Fox Business releases the full transcript:
GRETA: As Chairman of the Government Oversight Committee, do you have interest in holding any hearings on how we gather data to arrive at these numbers?
ISSA: We do Greta, because the way it’s being done with the constant revisions, significant revision, tells us that it’s not as an exact a science as it needs to be and there’s got to be a better way to get those numbers or don’t put them out if they’re going to be wrong by as much as half a point.
GRETA: Would you like a hearing in the next couple of months on this?
ISSA: We very much intend to work every day through the November and December time to get these kinds of things done. We’re hoping that that’s a good non-partisan time. And this is an issue where I think our committee has important jurisdiction to make sure we get it right.