The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had a hot week on Twitter, with over 680 direct references to the federal agency between May 26 and May 31. The greatest increase occurred during the tail end of the week, supported by the release of current statistics on the national unemployment rate, which is sitting at 8.2 percent. The BLS is also playing a supporting role in the soap opera that is the Wisconsin governor's recall election, as Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) and
his opponent, Tom Barrett (D-WI) fight for the small handful of undecideds in the Badger state ahead of the June 5 vote.
At the same time, trends in Facebook fans and Twitter followers of the Wisconsin governor's candidates show embattled incumbent Walker gaining ground as he cited his own version of labor statistics ahead of the official BLS release to prove his case that Wisconsin's economy improved under his leadership, while Barrett stayed relatively flat.
Reactions on Twitter were predictably partisan, with
Walker supporters gloating about the good numbers.
"Leave it to
unions to punish success!" @CWire35 tweeted.
"Suck it, Big
Labor!" @Ivandriest wrote.
Others chastised the governor for releasing what they said were phony numbers..
Walker, the bureau of Labor Statistics said you are lying," @vicky_madison
addressed the governor. "Did you think no one would be the wiser?"
For its part, the BLS has disputed Walker's
preliminary release of unemployment numbers around May 24, which the Walker
campaign says proves the Walker administration added 23,000 jobs in 2011. According to the BLS official data, Wisconsin actually lost 21,400 jobs in 2011.
"We can't confirm fourth quarter or later data and
would not have confirmed it to the governor's office, either," Director
Gary Steinberg said in an interview with the blog Uppity Wisconsin. "I say
that we would not have confirmed the numbers yet, but would only have confirmed
the methods used."
Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development (DWD) corroborated
Steinberg's account, saying that the tradition of not releasing the numbers
until the end of the month is consistent with DWD best practices. But the true picture is even murkier. The DWD's John Dipko claimed that BLS "approved the data"
for April, but according to Jud Lounsbury of Uppity Wisconsin, the survey numbers DWD used were different than
the BLS, and even if there was a difference of two percent between them the
outcome would be very different than Walker projects.
"That's important," Lounsbury writes.
"because if Wisconsin is last in job numbers in the [BLS] CES numbers, the
odds are overwhelming they will be last in the new numbers as well."
According to the website Department of Numbers, nearly
205,310 Wisconsinites were unemployed in April, a month to month decline of
2,308. In comparison, over 236,000 people were unemployed in January 2011, the
month Walker took office.
The decline in unemployment has been an article of faith for
Walker supporters who believe Barrett's refusal to acknowledge the Walker
statistics is delusional.
"Mr. Barrett, did
the Bureau of Labor Statistics cook the books too?" @MBGLenn said,
referencing the governor's criticism of Walker's data. "Just
The BLS released the national jobs numbers for May, citing a much smaller-than-expected growth of over 69,000 jobs added, with the biggest gains in manufacturing, transportation
The modest national jobs gain isn't much comfort to those looking for work as some take to Twitter to voice their frustration.
"If you read much
of the Bureau of Labor Statistics homepage," @Geo_Satellite wrote.
"you would believe our economy is really humming!"
Edited by Richard Hartman