Bad data from Labor Department: misleading and harmful, says Wolfers

September 12, 2013

Justin Wolfers wrote an opinion article for Bloomberg about the U.S. Department of Labor's release of bad statistics. In the article, "Labor Department's Bumbling Bureaucrats Can't Count," Wolfers explains that bad data can not only be misleading, but also harmful to market participants and policymakers.

Wolfers describes a Sept. 12 release of data on initial unemployment claims (from all 50 states), which included smaller-than-normal counts from two unnamed states due to computer system retooling. The discrepancy wasn't noted in the full data release, instead it was simply mentioned at the press conference.

"I'm only aware of it because Bloomberg News's Jeanna Smialek was in the press lockup, and the Labor Department spokesman there read a "technical note" out loud to the assembled reporters, while declining to name the states affected," Wolfers wrote. "Labor Department officials are publishing bad data, they know where it's bad and by how much, and they're not telling you."

[Read Wolfer's full op-ed]