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Conservatives believe Obama adviser’s forecast is a ‘snow job’

By Ron Brynaert
Tuesday, March 2, 2010 10:44 EDT
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The conservative-leaning Drudge Report sported the following all-caps banner Tuesday morning: “OBAMA ADVISER: WINTER TO ‘DISTORT’ UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES.”

The Reuters article, that Drudge links to, reports “White House economic adviser Larry Summers said on Monday winter blizzards were likely to distort U.S. February jobless figures, which are due to be released on Friday.”

“Look, jobs are priority number one for the President,” Summers told CNBC. “Let me say a word about the statistics. Who knows what the next number is going to be. The blizzards that affected much of the country during the last month are likely to distort the statistics. And in past blizzards, those statistics have been distorted by 100 to 200,000 jobs.”

Although the host didn’t respond to Summers’ potential forecast during the interview, a CNBC article notes,

After the interview Finerman added “I don’t know how much a blizzard really should factor into the jobs number but (Summers) is definitely trying to lower expectations.”

“For the short-term I didn’t get a warm and fuzzy,” she added.

The Reuters article added, “Construction activity was hit particularly hard by the storms, but many restaurants and stores also had to close, putting the brakes on hiring plans and temporarily throwing some employees out of work.”

However, Summers didn’t mention restaurants, which doesn’t seem to compute, since it’s unlikely waitresses or cooks would lose their jobs due to weather.

(Last November, journalist Greg Beato reported that “while Reuters is charging its MSM brethren thousands of dollars a month to license its content, it’s paying [Andrew Breitbart], the anti-MSM upstart, for editorial links he places on his two news portals, Breitbart.com and Breitbart.TV, and even on the Drudge Report.”)

A brief article on Huffington Post notes that “Summers isn’t sure what the February jobless numbers will be when they’re released on Friday, but he knows to take it with a grain of salt.”

Conservative Don Surber, writing in his Daily Mail blog, titled his post “The Snow Ate My Recovery.”

Wrong.

Unemployment rates are seasonally adjusted.

Second, that is not what the historical record says.

For example, terribly bad blizzards in January 1978 led to no change in unemployment. It was 6.4% in December 1977 and 6.4% in January 1978, falling to 6.3% in February 1978.

So basically what we have is an administration trying show to the public something — anything — good that might have come from that $787 billion the administration just squandered. Obama promised we would not get 9% unemployment if we trusted him with this much money.

We got 10% instead.

And a bunch of pathetic little excuses that a dumbass like me can see through.

However, a post at the liberal-leaning watchdog site Media Matters which aims to combat “conservative misinformation” begs to differ.

The post entitled “Memo to right-wing blogs: Snow storms can distort job numbers,” argues that “economists reportedly say that snow storms can affect employment,” pointing to three different articles which have been published this year on the topic.

A February 10 post on the Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics Blog noted that “[t]he snowstorm that’s keeping people from Washington D.C. to Gary, Ind. hemmed in at home could make a mess of the February employment report,” and that “[t]he storm has hit during the week that the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics takes its monthly snapshot of employment among households and employers nationwide. Since the storm has kept a large number of people from work, it could push up the unemployment rate, and lower the count of how many people are working.”

….

A February 11 MarketWatch article quoted Wells Fargo Securities economist Mark Vitner as saying, “The February numbers are going to be a mess,” because of the snow storms. The article also quoted Harm Bandholz, an economist for UniCredit Bank saying the storms “will perceptibly weigh on major economic data releases for the month of February.”

….

According to a February 12 article on MSN, “Economists estimate that between 90,000 and 150,000 jobs could be lost this month as a result of the storm.” It quoted Stéfane Marion, National Bank Financial’s chief economist as saying, “The storms will have a tangible impact on the hiring process, which is impeded when people can’t get out and businesses are closed.”

But Obama’s economic adviser may be exaggerating when he claimed that “in past blizzards, those statistics have been distorted by 100 to 200,000 jobs.”

“Looking at what large snowstorms in 1994, 1996 and 2007 did to the jobs count, Deutsche Bank economist Joe Lavorgna reckons that the payroll count could fall by 90,000 workers,” the WSJ articled noted by Media Matters reported. “As a result, he estimates that there will be 35,000 jobs added in February, rather than the 125,000 he had penciled in.”

The WSJ also noted last month, “When the jobs report comes out on March 5, a Labor Department spokesman says it will likely include a comment on the snow’s effect.”

Obama administration officials might have some difficulties, though, if there isn’t much snow nationwide in March and the April report doesn’t show more jobs created. But it won’t be snow that they will have to dig themselves out of.

This video is from CNBC, broadcast March 1, 2010.


 
 
 
 
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