Suspicion about the federal government's September jobs report has fallen on Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, who appeared on CNBC this morning and defended the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), claiming--falsely--that upward revisions of 86,000 jobs were from the private sector. In fact, the new number is entirely accounted for by upwards revisions to state and federal government payrolls.
The BLS reported that while only 114,000 jobs were created in September--which would have translated into a rise in unemployment from 8.1% to 8.2%--the unemployment rate fell dramatically to 7.8%. That unusual drop is the fastest in nearly three decades, and was unexpected even in the rosiest predictions.
One reason for the rise was an upward revision of 86,000 to the July and August jobs numbers--all of which came from a 91,000 increase in the estimate of public sector jobs. Private sector job estimates were actually revised downward by 5,000.
In addition, the BLS reported a large rise in the number of part-time jobs, adding 600,000 jobs to the total--a dramatic increase of 7.5%, not explained by any other economic indicators--and raising questions about whether the government had changed the way it counted part-time workers.
Two days after Obama bombs the presidential debate, four weeks before the election and with Obama's polls in free fall, the Labor Department announces the most dramatic drop in unemployment in 30 years.
Except none of the other indicators seem to have changed, and the drop is caused entirely by shifts in classification of government employees.
Res ipsa loquitur.