February 4th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

Do you trust govt's reporting of things like employment numbers?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Turns out the national jobs picture may be a whole lot worse than we thought.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/18/jobseekers.jpg caption=""]
The government may have underestimated job losses during the recession by close to one million jobs. That means instead of employers cutting about seven million jobs since December 2007 - that number could actually be eight million.

One expert calls this an "enormous understatement of the severity of the crisis" - which would qualify as an enormous understatement.

Here's what the Labor Department says happened: They release a revision of U.S. payrolls every year - using data that wasn't available as they calculated job losses month to month. Typically, the revisions don't amount to much - only a fraction of a percent of the total number of jobs.

But the year that ended last March was a brutal one on the economy, with the U.S. coming very close to another depression...

Economists say that during a time of such volatility... it's not a big surprise that there could be such a large discrepancy in the total number of jobs lost.

And it's not getting much better - at least not yet. This morning first time jobless claims came in much higher than expected - climbing to their highest level since mid-December. And economists are pessimistic about the January jobs report - which is due out tomorrow morning.

The national unemployment rate is expected to stay at 10 percent.

Here’s my question to you: How much do you trust the government's reporting of things like employment numbers?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Layne from Illinois writes:
Jack My dad, who was a high school Polisci teacher, taught me back in the early ‘60s how the government would play around with figures to their benefit, ESPECIALLY unemployment. This country has been spooked since the Great Depression about advertising unemployment numbers (we now know they were lying back then). The only outfit I listen to (with a grain of salt), is the General Accounting Office.

Nicholas from Green Bay, Wisconsin writes:
Jack, You have clearly put the seed of doubt into my mind. I don't believe that the government wants us to know how bad the employment situation really is. Would it cause panic to know that things are only getting worse? I think so. If government is being nourished by the breast milk of our tax dollars, then we deserve the truth.

John writes:
I have studied the Dept. of Labor processes for many months and I am convinced that the data they collect is accurate, subject to sampling uncertainty of any survey process. I have written a number of articles with analysis of how the numbers could be better used in reporting the status of unemployment.

Ken from Dover, Delaware writes:
It appears that most voters believe anything the government tells them. That is why Wall Street and K Street continue to get everything they want at the expense of Main Street. The only things that have changed are the numbers on the debt clock and the numbers in the unemployment lines.

Curtis from Kansas writes:
Jack, I'm impressed: very few people can use the words 'trust' and 'government' in the same sentence with a straight face.

Filed under: Government • Unemployment
soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. bob, oshawa, ontario

    Jack, these employment numbers are in the category of ballpark figures. Economics is not an exacting science but is designed to give us some sense of what is happening in the financial markets. They are useful figures in that they let us know, in this case, that creating new jobs is certainly the number one priority. Problem is that even if the right course is taken by the administration to address the situation, it is never a quick fix. Americans and Canadians have to be patient, the cavalry is coming.

    February 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  2. David in Raleigh, NC

    As they say in accounting. Figures don't lie, but liars sure do figure.

    February 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  3. David in Raleigh, NC

    Seeing that unemployment is under reported by the government because they only include those who are actively job hunting, the credibility of any government issued unemployment number is highly suspect.

    February 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  4. SARAH from Wisconsin

    I do not trust them very much, for example in Wisconsin, Gov. Doyle just changed the rules of the accounting of jobs created by the Stimulus Package.......do you think he's manipulating the numbers in his favor??????

    February 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  5. Paul Round Rock, Texas

    Who to beleive just who should you beleive. It shouldn't be the government. I was from the generation of don't trust authority. Yet I was drafted and went only because my parents would of been in shame if I did not. The government at the time said we would win the war and had the upper hand in the war. Well I got to Viet Nam and we sure did not have the upper hand and at times didn't know who to shoot at and had to call in to ask if we could fire back when we were fired upon. Since then and to this day I do not trust anything the government says or puts out as fact.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  6. Tony from Southport

    I don't trust this administration to tell the truth, ever. The man in charge campaigns every day as if he wants this job forever. He blames the last administration for every failure and takes credit for any success, real or fudged. Unemployment at an all time high and all we hear is how many jobs were created or saved.

    Does he think the American people are stupid?

    February 4, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  7. Joe CE

    Yes but the basis has been changed several times to better fit the inumbent's bias.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  8. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Trust? Mess me over once, shame on you; mess me over twice shame on me and they are the masters at messing over the public and the sad thing is that most people believe the lies, day after day.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  9. JENNA

    How much do you trust the government's reporting of things like employment numbers?

    Jack, the numbers that they post are those that can be counted. So those numbers would be correct. However..

    No administration has counted those who have:

    1. fallen off the books (all benefits expired)

    2. never got on the books (students graduating into a workforce with no jobs available) (housewives having to return to work)

    If we were to add those folks the numbers would be far worse.

    Maybe this information can be answered in the census. Sure hope the census workers get to go into shelters to gather as much information as possible.

    Roseville CA

    February 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  10. Maria

    I don't think it's a matter of trusting the government numbers. It's really a matter of an insane about of date being collated by an insane number of agencies. Throw in human error, people who don't tell the truth, or exaggerate the truth, the lack of date entry people, and you've got a terrific mess. I vote for the monkey pounding computer keys to give us approximately accurate numbers for anything.



    February 4, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  11. Brian Smith PhD

    I think we will find the Labor department has been bamboozling us for years. I agree there is some credence to publishing new claims for unemployment insurance, and continued claims. However, I believe you will find they also calculate into the figures the number of new jobs created. That is where the BIG lie is. When ever the Administration brags about the number of jobs they have added, they do NOT distinguish between part-time and full-time jobs. On average 30% of people losing a full-time job end up only finding a part-time job. That is, 30% returning workers only find a part-time job whereas they once had a full-time job. So no… .don’t trust the government figures. Besides the politicians will cook the books anyway they feel will get them re-elected.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  12. Keith - Twinsburg, Ohio

    I never trusted our government to have accurate numbers, or to tell the truth when they did.

    Small businesses cannot get money from the banks to expand their business in order to employ more people, and our government wants to tax the hell out of those same people.

    Where's the logic, Jack??

    February 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  13. joe m

    are you kidding me! i trust this government to tell the truth on employment numbers, or anything else for that matter, as much as i would trust a drunk in a liquor store. this government's credibility has eroded away steadily due to the way politicians play with facts and numbers. we're told that a program will only cost so many billions, but it turns out to be ten times that. we are told that we only owe so much money, but we find out we owe more. and we are assured that things are so much better, when things are actually so much worse. we are told that there is only 10% unemployment, but it wouldn't surprise me if the number is actually much more than that. the problem we face is trully as 'deficit in trust' in this government and it won't be resolved until we actually have politicians who can recognize and speak the truth.


    February 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  14. Greg

    The question is who filtered the numbers? This was in 07. The real numbers may have changed the election or made the wins in congress even greater. Which in turn might make any elections coming up less relevant. The nature of these figures are very far reaching.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  15. K

    our governemnt speaks with a forked tongue. I wouldn't and don't believe anything that comes out of their mouths even if they had their hands on the Bible, were hooked up to a lie detector and their tongue was notorized.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  16. chris

    let me ask this do we believe anything the govt tells us ??

    February 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  17. david doherty

    Not much! These are the same people that let all our jobs go over sea's, along with all the income taxes that they would have generated and act surprised that there's not enough money to go around. That's as about as smart as giving your neighbor your job then wonder why you're broke

    Dave from Peterborough, NH.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  18. William, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

    No, never did, never will, it doesn't matter which party is in power they always fudge the numbers to make them look good.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  19. Jonny - Cypress TX

    I trust in anything that come out of our government as much as I trust on the value of a U$ 3 bill...

    February 4, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  20. James Conn

    Interesting question Jack, I don't know but been told once your unemployment runs out your no longer in the equation. Your considered retired or you no longer want to be in the work force. When people extensions runs out it'll be interesting to see if unemployment rates drop. As for corporate numbers and I don't know but, some jobs are considered export trade. Figures don't lie but liers figure. Luckly by watching T V, government officials don't lie. Instead of hiring honest people to watch over our officials why not throw them out and vote honest ones in? Jim, Logansport

    February 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  21. Remo, from beautiful downtown Pflugerville, Texas

    Jack, I trust those numbers exactly like I trust everything the government tells me: I DON'T! Until they start doing things that have been promised, I'll always trat their figures with distrust and extreme doubt.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  22. Jim ..Ft. Worth...Texas

    Jack, do you mean like an accurate accounting of something like national debt. Maybe like the accounting of the fatal casualty count from WWII, between 50 and 70 million, since the question concerns casualties of sorts. Forgot you included the word trust in your question...never mind. Next question please.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  23. honestjohn in Vermont

    Trust their numbers? Of course not Jack. It does them absolutely no good to tell the truth about our Great Recession and unemployment. Gotta put some spit on the ball to give it some spin and truth just don't make good press.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  24. Jack from Boynton Beach Florida

    Not really Jack. I lived through and remember the depression of the 1930's and the government figures stated that the unemployment rate was twenty-five percent when the had no data to back up such a claim. I certainly don't think that seventy-five percent of the working people had jobs back then.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  25. Kevin in CA

    The government numbers are what they are ... after adjustments, corrections and normalizations.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  26. Dennis North Carolina

    it is not the numbers but the formula by which they come up with the number. I could give you a number but would you trust my formula?

    February 4, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  27. Judy, Exeter, Ca

    Whenever I hear numbers being touted by the government, my first thought is why should I believe these numbers. Note to the boys in Washington, Show me the money.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  28. F E from Oklahoma

    how much history of miscalculations, misinformation and reporting errors do we need to establish mistrust? what has been correctly reported in recent years? i blindly trust no data published by our government.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  29. JW Atlanta

    I trust that government is going to give me unemployment numbers exactly as accurately as they give inflation numbers. They will spin, exclude and manipulate those numbers which they perceive might have the least possibility of THEM losing THEIR jobs. Those numbers will have no useful accuracy for use by regular people.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  30. vern-anaheim,ca

    i don't trust the goverments reporting on unemployment numbers at all,there are many more people out there that are not being counted due to having run out of unemployment benefits and those who have given up on finding a job

    February 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
  31. Ken in Pinon Hills California

    The depression is already ongoing for millions of American workers, who can't find another job.
    Depression could replace recession on Wall Street if factual economic realities and honest unemployment figures were reported by the government. The market with their incredible influence in Washington probably will not stand for the truth. You know, the same banks and companies our tax dollars are bailing out.

    February 4, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  32. Jerry Johns Creek, GA

    My trust in government projections of any kind is simply zero. Mathematicians will advise you to not extrapolate beyond your data points. The projections that are being made must have a very low confidence factor but they are made regardless of obvious conditions that are observable and should be used to correct the projections. Once in awhile the weatherman should look out the window. I am not certain but I think that the current jobless report comes from unemployment filings or payments being made to jobless taxpayers. Who counts those people who have used up all of their benefits. Are they simply considered unemployable and therefore not counted? How about Independent Contractors, the 1099ers, who do not get unemployment because they are considered self employed. This would include most construction workers. Our numbers are way off and Washington has no idea how serious the issue is and I don't really think they care.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  33. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    Who pays these people's salaries? Without independence from the organization you are reporting on, you will always be susceptible to pressure from higher up the chain. I am not saying it happened this way but I can definitely see Obama's office pressuring the Labor Department to make things look like his policies were working. How many times has he said the stimulus package worked and put a floor beneath a free-falling economy. They kept telling us they needed to build American consumer confidence, what better way than showing declining jobless claims? Sounds like most frauds, what probably started out as a little lie or tinkering with the rounding of some numbers became unsustainable because the numbers never actually rebounded to cover the diffrence.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  34. Ann from Hampton, New Jersey

    Just like I believe that Ben Laden will finally surrender. All one has to do is look around their neighborhood and see houses up for sale and banks taking over properties because the breadwinner no longer brings home the bread. Open up your papers to the want ad section and see a column and a half (mostly for nursing or part time) where there was a full page plus. Our government better wake up to the fact that they can no longer pull the wool over our eyes and we are quite aware of what is going on. Why do you think Obama lost NJ, VA and MA?

    February 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  35. Travis

    Ha! With how corrupt and dishonest the government is, what would make anyone believe their "numbers" were honest. Just like Wallstreet, they would skew numbers to benefit themselves, not to benefit the population funding them.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
  36. DEE

    No, because unemployment numbers are based on people that are currently searching for work . It's not based on the number of people who are actually unemployed.


    Houston, TX

    February 4, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  37. Antonio from Washington D.C.

    That's like asking the DCPS system how many teachers have you fired and how many students passed their exams!

    February 4, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  38. Katja in Bradenton, Florida

    I've lost my trust in the government. Those in power only think about themselves, not those they were elected to represent. I'm still waiting for change.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  39. Terry

    There's only one thing I trust the government to do. Work to keep their jobs at all cost.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  40. Dave zimmerman

    Absolutely not! The government uses data to convey the state of our nation to the people. Unfortunately our government lacks the ability to perform the vast majority of its tasks so why should reporting be any different. They use jobless claims to convey the monthly unemployment numbers, yet leave out things like under-employment, or recent college graduates that havent found jobs yet. I have questioned our goverments capabilites for most of my life but we are clearly at a point now where it is difficult to trust our government to be open an honest with anything , let alone acurate!

    West Hartford,CT

    February 4, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
  41. Dale from Colorado

    Hi Jack,

    Unemployment statistics based upon jobless claims fail to account for the growing number of individuals whose benefits have expired and are still unemployed. If your not collecting unemployment, then you must be doing alright. In economic downturns, the government has always attempted to obfuscate the real employment picture this way in an attempt to increase optimism in the economy and to get people buying again. It's the "let them eat cake" metality.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm |
  42. Jeff Crocket in New Britain, Ct

    Never, particularly the Congress!

    February 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  43. Denis Duffy

    Punxsutawney Phil has a better record record for honesty than does the government. Phil just looks for his shadow(or what his handlers decide). The government decides what it wants you to hear, by manipulating what facts they think you will buy. The government has more caveats than a criminal caught in the act, by police, witness's and video tape.
    In a word, I don't trust Obama, his minions or congress. They are very accomplished liars, for their own benefit.

    Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  44. Rob Perkins

    In a word Jack, "NO" I do not believe the governments' reporting of unemployment statistics. I do not believe the governments' reporting of any statistics. I do not believe a word that comes out of a politicians mouth. Every politician and every department of government has an agenda, (as mandated by the administration in power). I believe they will skew statistics to either minimize or maximize impact, which ever best serves them. I believe every politician becomes fundamentally dishonest over time. I didn't always feel this way I was driven to it by hearing politicians say one thing and do another without batting an eye. Nobody is more saddened by this situation than I.

    Rob P.
    Colorado Springs, CO

    February 4, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  45. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, all I can say is that anyone who accepts any government report at face value is a complete fool. There are just too many ways for the government to manipulate the huge numbers they deal with into something that makes it not look so bad, or even look good for them, that you can't trust them. That's like asking if we "trust" Washington D.C.. That answer is also NO!

    February 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  46. Carl

    I don't trust our government for anything, the only thing i'am sure of our government is the fact that they will lie, steal and cheat the American tax payers every chance they get, that is what I trust them for,
    Totally fed up in the very corrupt state of Illinois

    February 4, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  47. NC Jeff

    I don't trust their numbers on anything.

    It is a sad state of affairs when the people loose faith in their government and elected officails and can't trust them but that is where we are Jack.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  48. Ralph Spyer chicago Il

    Trust the Government ? IN Vietnam? IN Iraq? IN the what happen to J.F.K or Martin Lutheran King? The C.I. A in south America? Were do I start???

    February 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm |
  49. Jim in Alabama

    Jack, I don't trust anything this government does or says about anything. There's been too many back room deals, military operations which were denied and later revealed, scandals, corruption, and lies for me to trust them on anything. People seem to think that this all this is a recent development, but the truth is, it's gone on for decades and is still going on. Transparency would be something akin to a miracle but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  50. Scott Stodden

    Everybody makes mistakes and as long as Obama is President I trust goverment completley!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    February 4, 2010 at 6:28 pm |
  51. Michael Roepke - Dallas, TX

    I could care less if the government reports that job loss is bad rather than reporting that it is very bad. There are both optimists and pessimists reporting job losses. What I do care about is government reporting that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction when even they know it is a lie.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  52. Paul

    Seeing as they are the only source of this data that I know of, I will simply have to trust it. But in any case, I don't know how its personally effects me if the data is off one way or another. Its a bad job climate no matter how you slice it.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  53. ken from connecticut

    The jobs picture may be a whole lot worse than we thought? Any administration is going to exaggerate the true figures. And these are based on their own formulas. I don't trust their figures. Just add to them by rule!!

    February 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  54. Nicholas Weber Green Bay, WI

    Jack, you have clearly put the seed of doubt into my mind. I don't believe that the government wants us to know how bad the employment situation really is. Would it cause panic to know that things are only getting worse? I think so. If government is being nourished by the breast milk of our tax dollars, then we deserve the truth.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:34 pm |
  55. southerncousin

    It is common knowledge that they are understated by half. Always have been.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  56. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    About as far as I could toss a bull elephant.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  57. southerncousin

    It is common knowledge that they are understated by half. Always have been. As a general rule you can't believe government numbers, especially this government which has a growing credibility gap. Something we have not seen since the "Great Society"

    February 4, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  58. Lisa in Ga

    No I don't Jack, unemployment in this country is what is gonna be its downfall.. everybody covering up numbers... eventually it will catch up with them... oh I forgot.. It already has!

    February 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  59. Leslie

    I do not! This country will not get any better untill we expect more from government wokers from top to bottom. The days of governmental red tape has to end because its code for someone messed up or forgot to file something before going home or some stupid excuse that would not be acceptable in the private industry. It is no longer logically or economically eceptable for the government agencies to be behind the curve. The competion from other governments and the private industry is too great and, they want those jobs. Just like we want the best and the brightest for our military we want the same for the civil side of our government federal, state and local together.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  60. Gigi Oregon

    Not at all! Many are working part time and not getting unemployment benefits, taking pay cuts and mandatory days off.. How long can you work part time and survive. Then if your on unemployment and it runs out...your off the books.

    February 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  61. santa clause

    I trust that number about like I trust the census number I can give you a number and that is 12 trillion dollars if you took what we owe and divide between all americans the usa would not be in this shape but unstead the bush administration let the banks hand that much out in bonuses to only a few selected people on wall street who are selfish stingy and corupt give me one million dollars and I will employ 20 people starting tomorrow in the line of plastic recycling and with in the year have hundreds of people employed but I have no overhead or stimulis grant money to start my business idea

    February 4, 2010 at 6:59 pm |

    Regardless of who is in office, I never trusted the governments reports on unemployment. They all manipulate the figures. However, I believe president Barack Hussein Obama is a master at this.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  63. Joseph Kavanaugh

    I think CNN should should take over the govenrment. It seems we can only get the straight scoop from you and Wolf!

    Postal Joe,

    Rock Hill, NY

    February 4, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  64. gunny

    Jack, trust our government ? Do politicians lie?

    February 4, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  65. John C. Buckley III

    Are you kidding? How can you tell when they're lying? Their lips are moving. ANYTHING we are told by our government, by either party, is suspect.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  66. Anna in Itasca, Ill

    Of course not. We have been loosing jobs for last 10 years to India and China and government was reporting that we were adding jobs by the millions. They also told us that Wall street banks were sound and then overnight they were falling off the clif.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
  67. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    They are going to manipulate the numbers so it doesn't look so bad as to instill another Panic. Like we're not going to find out sooner or later anyway?

    February 4, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  68. Dianne, Atlanta

    I don't trust anything the gov't reports on these days. I don't think I'm alone on that issue.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  69. Craig Holstein

    Tea Party; This is what Ralph Nadar was to the Democrats. Glad to see the Republicans getting some of their own medicine.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  70. Jim


    I think they're doing the best they can trying to measure and predict something they don't fully understand. It isn't just statistics that are going to turn things around, it's renewed confidence. When businesses are confident enough to hire and consumers are confident enough to spend, the economy will start humming again.


    February 4, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  71. Chris in Atlanta

    Jack there are three kinds of lies in this world, lies, dam lies, and statistics. I don't care who is reporting the numbers I won't believe, especially from the goverment or the media. Give me the raw data and a calculator and I will give you a statistic to prove any point of veiw you want.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  72. Deacon Roby

    No, Jack. I'm pretty leery of government reports. Things usually are twice as bad as they report.

    That's why I jump in the other lane if I see a Toyota creeping up
    behind me.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  73. Mae in DC

    The government will report on things that make it look like it's doing something. "Keep quiet until after the fact" is their motto. When unemployment goes down and a year has passed, that's when we will hear the real numbers. Until the big shots in DC become an unemployed statistic like I am, their numbers mean very little me

    February 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
  74. Mike vivian

    I do not trust the Government statistics on unemployment. the best example is Detroit. Huge numbers there are unemployed and vast acres of the city are in shambles. Yet, the government keeps trying to tell us there have not been jobs lost. Open your eyes Mr. President.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  75. Alex in Gig Harbor

    I trust them. They sift through a mountain of data every month, quarter, year to get the numbers right. It is hard enough to hit a moving target every month which is why they issue revisions as more reports come in. When the target is moving like crazy it becomes harder to get it right. Especially, for example, if bankrupt companies fail to report. Since they do the same research the same way every month I think they can be trusted

    February 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
  76. Duane in PA

    I guess I feel the same as my dad did over 40 years ago, I had just turned 21, ask what political party we were so I could register to vote. His reply; It doesn't matter, there are all a bunch of lire's.I do not trust any government reporting on any thing. I have never voted. Is this why 40 to 50% of Americans don't vote?

    February 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  77. Curtis in Kansas

    To trust what the government says about jobs is like asking a high school student what grade he deserves. So take any report from the government with a grain of salt.... excuse me, but I'm out of salt – can you spare a cup?

    February 4, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  78. A. Smith, Oregon

    No I do not Jack, its entirely politically motivated to state far lower numbers than actually exist. For example Jack in my State there is over 30% of ALL teenagers across the entire State that are currently Unemployed. How many baby boomers simply gave up on finding a job and is not being listed in some Govt. un-Employment Record?

    February 4, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  79. Cat, Detroit

    Whether the number is 7 million or 8 million is irrelevant. I'm still unemployed.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  80. Curtis in Kansas

    Jack – I'm impressed – very few people can use the words 'trust' and 'government' in the same sentence with a straight face.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  81. charlie

    I for one do not believe hardly anything the government tells me, especially when it has numbers attached to it. The politicians job is to tell us what we want to hear whether it's the truth or not. We already know this. We have a "national enquirer" mind in this country we will believe anything we're told.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  82. Duane

    Jack, In 2007, every month the employment figures came out of the Bush Administration, I smelled something rotten. I knew way too many people losing thier jobs yet the rosey picture being portrayed and reality didn't mesh. Almost 3 years later I can now say "I knew it". The Bush administration lied again.

    February 4, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
  83. Diane Dagenais Turbide


    I always question and check every number be it from government, private sector, research papers. Trust the fact that always checking and questioning the numbers is better than being a sheep and accepting every number and never asking questions!

    February 4, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
  84. r R.L.GUILBEAU

    why don't you ask mr obama about the 30 people his wife has on the payroll,costing the taxpayers one and a half million dollars every yr,
    while we are out of wk.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  85. ken, dover de

    It appears that most voters believe anything the government tells them. That is why wall street and k street continue to get everything they want at the exoense of main street. The only thing that has changed are the numbers on the debt clock and the numbers on the unemployment lines.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  86. John, Fort Collins, CO

    When it comes to government data, all that we can trust is that the party in power will always have the most favorable data - in this case by gilding the lilly on the employment numbers. With the Obama administration feeling the heat on lost jobs, it is clear the old adage kicked in again: "figures don't lie, but liars figure". Not surprising, just disappointing.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  87. steve

    I don't take them in any way except as true rabid republicans..."let's get some public support and then turn around and take their money. It's not only the American way but it's also Patriotioc."

    February 4, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  88. Steven; Cottage Grove, MN

    I suspect the government gets its data from other sources. The question is, why do they trust those sources? Everyone from Washington to CNN tweeks the facts just a little bit, don't you think, Jack?

    February 4, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  89. Chris

    I trust them 100%! They've been completely honest and "transparent" for so many decades...why wouldn't we trust them now? Think about this for a second-our wonderful/trustfull government is spending millions on Census commercials to get the word out. Do you think if We the American People trusted them, we'd hesitate to complete a simple questionaire? I doubt it!!!!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  90. Lilarose in Bandon, OR

    I don't trust or not trust the government's figures.

    I am the government, you are the government, we are all the government.

    We tend to forget this.

    And I am not sitting here waiting for Pres Obama to find me a job.

    Who cares about these figures? Jobs will be created when someone starts hiring. I am spending my money as fast as I can so businesses will need more employees.

    What else can be done??

    February 4, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  91. Anita

    figures can easily be manipulated and don't really reveal true numbers

    February 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  92. Scott Fears

    I trust the numbers the government reports regarding unemployment as much as I trust their calculations regarding annual inflation.
    (Read between the lines).

    February 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  93. Charles

    I don't trust anyone in government to tell me what the current weather is. Why would I trust them to be honest with something like unemployment statistics? Republicans and Democrats alike are liars.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  94. Zachary Ryan

    No. The official numbers already only reflect people who are unemployed but have not given up looking for work within a month's time. Everybody else isn't counted, nor are the underemployed counted. I would guess the real number is anywhere between 15-25%.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  95. John -- Syracuse, NY

    If this is the best the government can do on tallying unemployment numbers with actual reporting from the civilian sector.....just imagine when they come out with their statistics on illegal immigration?

    February 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
  96. KK

    Don't trust their numbers at all. Not when they lie about other statistics and data.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  97. Seth Nh

    20%. How people feel is more important than what is

    February 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  98. Jason

    Not when you can look around and see that the official figures are lies. They also manipulate the numbers to be meaningless, such as the cost of living, and the unemployment numbers. They don't count "underemployment" which is probably a bigger problem.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  99. Ray from Las Vegas

    Jack, I don't even know exactly what the number means. I am sure it counts something, but from what I have read everywhere, it does not tell the real picture. Well it does give us trends even if the absolute value and meaning are in question. At least I think it does. Can someone tell me who knows for sure?

    February 4, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  100. Austin

    When a person's unemployment benefits run out the person is counted as "giving up or not wanting to work". No, I don't believe any statistics from the Government...don't get me going on inflation.
    Houston TX

    February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  101. David

    I never believed these number from labor dept. frankly, I know lots of that people who might not report about the job loses and layoffs. I really cant trust the numbers that are being released every month. To the least, I can say that the real number would be much higher than the published numbers.

    I don't think updating the employment information to Labor dept has been regulated as much as expected. Can really trust these numbers but surely more!!!!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  102. Tom

    I trust the governments numbers on unemployment about as much as I trust a out-house rat.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  103. Elaine Southard

    Re the unemployment number. Many people get "fired" due to unethical practices of some employers, and are denied unemployment, so they aren't counted! There is a huge number uncounted there, and also among those unemployed but their benefits have run out. Again, not counted.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  104. Maggie

    Yes, I do trust the government on they're unemployment numbers. That they got it , possibly, wrong this time ? Well, that's easy to do seeing they have not dealt with numbers this high before.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  105. Kim

    A low number unemployment number makes the Goverment, Wall Sreet and our Banks look good. I don't trust anything that ANY of these 3 have to say.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  106. Hillman

    I do trust the Government's figures. And I also appreciate that during a high period of unemployment, that the US Government is at least hiring people. I am disappointed that Cafferty viewing these hires as bigger government.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
  107. Dorian De Maio

    No, I don't believe the government reporting of unemployment. It's too easy to fudge the numbers associated with discouraged job seekers. You have to look at the total number of people seeking full time employment which is closer to 17-18%; 21% of people in the private sector only are unemployed!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  108. Vikas Sharma

    Government reporting on employment is very inaccurate. It does not even consider people who were self employed and now are out of work. Government needs to be more efficient not only in terms of being accurate but also cutting down their own expenses. Most of government programs are a waste of tax dollar.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  109. Colonel Rebel

    Trust Obama? They guy who hung out with radicals is whole life. The White House engages in Saul Alinski tactics to bring about Cloward-Piven disruption of private capitalism.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  110. Jesse Warren port st lucie, Florida

    I don't trust them at all. Flat don't believe, flat don't trust them.
    Flat broke and lost my job so I'm 100% unemployed.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  111. Tom Kerr

    I don't trust them, but the government just hired me to investigate these discrepancies using some money from the stimulus fund. Of course, this new job of mine may or not be part of the next employment report. And, later on, it may or not be one of the jobs "saved" by the next stimulus...but not a job "created"....confused???? Well, that's why they hired me, I guess...to figure it out. Wish me luck!
    Tom Kerr
    Cleveland Heights, Ohio

    February 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  112. Jeff Zullo

    Not only do I not trust the governments numbers on unemployment, I don't think they even have a clue how many are under employed and how many have simply stopped looking and how many are still not employed but have run out of benefits. Additionally some percentage never even file for unemployment for a variety of reasons. They don't have a clue at all.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  113. Sara

    It appears to me that the goverment keeps expecting us to believe their numbers but continue to say they have created or saved a million or so jobs, who looks stupid now when unemployment numbers are continually being reworked and respun to fit the occassion.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  114. Nancy Lucast

    Dear Jack:
    Absolutely not, and here's why:
    – A huge number of persons are self-employed.
    – A huge percentage of those people are out of work in this recession, including me.
    – Self-employed people are required to pay unemployment taxes.
    – Yet, self-employed people CANNOT collect unemployment benefits.
    – Unemployment statistics are determined by the number of people who file for unemployment benefits.
    – Ergo, unemployment statistics are WOEFULLY understated.

    I wish someone (maybe it's you) would bring this fact to the attention of the public and the government and anyone who really cares.

    ~nancy lucast

    February 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  115. Scott E Smith


    Considering the poor history of our government's ability to get facts right, one would be a bumbling idiot to think that the numbers the Feds present to us are anywhere close to being correct.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  116. Doug in Florida

    Jack what about all the self employed construction workers who are not counted..They stay at 10% not matter what goes on...Its bad out here..Remember what obahma said..We need change!! Well we got it..Just hold on for dear life..

    February 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  117. Masha

    Government... Trust... Are you kidding!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  118. Jason

    The "unemployment rate" is an nearly arbitrary number based on claims tracked through the unemployment agency. People that have not filed or feel they cannot file for unemployment are not counted. People that can't find enough work are not counted. I am not counted. The situation in this country is probably worse than anyone in government will admit.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  119. Sterling Greenwood

    Of course not. I remember a time a few years back when there were government figures released on U.S. deaths linked to obesity. The numbers were chilling. Something more than 300,000 deaths annually where food abuse was a factor. Then just before Thanksgiving, our government, as if it were afraid we wouldn't spend enough money to stuff ourselves silly over the holiday, abruptly announced there had been mistake in the obesity death figures. We were told that new figures would be forthcoming. Can you guess which way those figures were adjusted? Down. Sterling Greenwood/Aspen

    February 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  120. David P Vernon

    Tucson, AZ – This is a two part question. Does the government report unemployment figures to the best of their ability, or do they fake them? How accurate and meaningful are the numbers that are reported? The answer to the first part is that the numbers are collected by non-partisan civl servants according to specified methods, and they are as accurate as they can be. The answer to the second part is not very, because they are based on claims filed in States, and only count the number of people who have filed for or are receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The long term unemployed, the under-employed, those who are "retired" against their will, and those who file no claims or are ineligible to file claims are all left out. The numbers are crummy, but not crooked, That's the truth.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  121. Ron

    Not much. They don't know the difference betwwen "jobs lost" and "people who lost their job". Or the difference between "people on unemployment" and "people who did not qualify for and are not collecting it". And where do the "chronically umemployed" get counted? The government needs a new abacus.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  122. Allan Alexander

    Gov't statistics, unemployment and CPI have been understated
    progressively since 1980. Every business man and responsible
    economist have known this but it has been politicaly suicide for the media to mention it.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  123. James Devine

    No. After listening to the delusions of President Obama and Vice-President Biden about "saved or created" jobs, who can trust what they say? CNN essentially showed that the "stimulus" budget was
    wasted money not creating many jobs. The proposal to give these fools more money for a new "jobs" bill is just plain looney!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  124. Richard A. "Red" Lawhern

    Trust government employment statistics??? Who do they think they're kidding? Real US unemployment and under-employment is over 17%, not 10%. In some counties of South Carolina, the number exceeds 25%, which you'll almost never hear reported. Many people who have gotten full-time jobs were forced to take pay cuts of a third or more. And we wonder why over five million homes are in the early stages of foreclosure?

    This is just one more example of a very old rule that we ignore to our peril. There are few problems of modern life that cannot be made WORSE by allowing government to get involved with them.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  125. Richard Mahoney

    Absolutely not! The numbers have never represented the true unemployed only those collecting unemployment benefits. Once you are no longer eligible for benefits you fall off the radar. It is a statistical anomally utilized to present an artifically favorable employment scenario. The practise has been "employed" for years, it is not new to this administration.

    A better method would be to calculate "New Jobs Created" from the gross unemployed figures.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  126. Byron

    I guess we have to trust them to a point as we have no other way of getting the info. But I would like to know if there are any figures available on how many jobs have been lost to places overseas in the last 8 years due to corporate greed, I'm betting it's more than the 7,000,000 that have been lost in the last 2 years.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  127. Patty Sparks

    I don't trust this corrupt adminstration to tell the truth on anything.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  128. chip

    Jack, all I can tell you is that I was finally hired last month, by a reputable company, after 9 months of unemployment. I feel very lucky (blessed) to be a productive citizen again. There was a freeze last year by this company on hiring and pay raises. This year they are hiring and giving overdue pay raises.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  129. Ron, key west, fl

    Not much. They don't know the difference betwwen "jobs lost" and "people who lost their job". Or the difference between "people on unemployment" and "people who did not qualify for and are not collecting it". And where do the "chronically umemployed" get counted? The government needs a new abacus.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  130. Ben

    The government gets their numbers from private agencies. Getting accurate information within a percentage point or two is very difficult, but it means all the difference between recession and recovery. So, no, but what can we really expect?

    February 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  131. Mike

    The words trust and government are no longer fit in the same sentence. It is so hard to believe that the gov. would misrepresent the economic reality we are in ?

    February 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  132. Tony

    The government does not report an actual unemployment figure because it does not know the actual figure...It only takes into consideration the number of people claiming benefits and the level of natural unemployment which historically been 4%...It is not taking into consideration people whose unemployment benefits have exhausted and yet have not found work...I would wager that the true unemployment rate is roughly 6 percentage points higher than the reported rate based on what the number is when the country is at full employment with natural unemployment...10% unemployment...no the country is at a level more like 16% unemployment...and that's not including people who are at part time employment due to the economy...

    February 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  133. John Lounsbury

    I have studied the Dept. of Labor processes for many months and I am convinced that the data they collect is accurate, subject to sampling uncertainty of any survey process. I have written a number of articles with analysis of how the numbers could be better used in reporting the status of unemployment.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  134. Mike Rittenhouse

    Government numbers and figures are very different than the numbers the rest of us are familiar with.
    Billions are thrown around like single dollars at a strip club.
    Remember the vote count in Florida?
    No, numbers and figures are just an illusion, moving left to right depending on the time of year, target guesstimated approximation.
    Unemployment is around 7 percent or 9 percent, or give or take a few percentages, whatever sometwhere around there.
    And here comes the census numbers...groan.
    Mike in Dallas

    February 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  135. Paul Hooker


    I hope they are better – and more honest – at estimating unemployment rates than they are at calculating cost of living changes. This said as a retiree who just registered an increase in insurance premium, gas prices, food prices and drug coverage coinsurance, and received 0 increase in income this year And on a $40K annual annuity, I consider myself fairly well off!


    February 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  136. Elaine s

    There has been no media coverage of age discrimination with the huge unemployment numbers. yet if you are over 50 good luck even being taken seriously. How many seniors wanting jobs can't find them , and aren't even counted?

    February 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  137. Jim

    Let's see a reported $1.3 trillon dollar deficit projected for 2010 that is blamed on a person that has not effectively been in office since November 2008, a Congress that believes that this economy can handle an EXTRA $1 Trillion (real amount undoubtedly would be a multiple of that amount) of extra expenses, the US Post office loses three billion dollars a year despite having a monopoly -( no Fed EX , UPS, etc. are in different businesses), the largest single payer healthcare system in the world has a conservatively estimated fraud rate of greater than 20%, and a majority party stating that losing Ted Kennedy's senate seat is not a MESSAGE! I think I can believe the governments reports on jobless numbers.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  138. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    What's the old saying, figures lie and liars figure.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  139. John in Ontario Canada

    The unemployment figures are probably manipulated the same as in Canada. Most people don't realise that when benefits run out on people, they are no longer a statistic and no longer considered unemployed. Government statistics are based on records of people working and people collecting. Period. After they stop receiving benefits, "statistically", they are no longer unemployed. Don't believe me. Check it out. It's hard to get a straight answer but thems the facts. The real number of unemployed is probably 15%-20% and if you unclude the "underemployed" it's probably closer to 40%. And the government, yours and mine is trying to convince everyone that we're coming out of things. Your country is broke, just like the majority of your citizens. Our country is heading that way too.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  140. Jay Casey

    Of course I trust the government – at least as much as I trust anyone else. Economic statistics are an inexact science anyway but at least while Obama is in office I think the Govt will do the right thing. I notice that the Feds are always going back and correcting reports when new data becomes available. That's a lot more than most media do.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  141. Greg

    trust – government – oxymoron

    February 4, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
  142. Ellen from Saint Petersburg

    So the jobless claims were grossly under reported in the period ending last March. And, who was President most of that time? The Republicans cultivate distrust of government, yet they are the ones who could not be trusted when they were in power.

    Someone give them a mirror.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  143. mike evans - Jackson, Mississippi


    I no longer have confidence in anything the Federal government says or does. They're just a bunch of incompetent over-educated, over-paid bureaucrats!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  144. Debbie - Boise, ID

    Seriously?! No when they only take into account those that are currently looking for employment. Not those that have ran out of benefits or those that are self employed and are not eligible for unemployment. Not to mention of course the fact that they try to make us all believe that things are better than they really are, you know lie to our faces, because the average American is stupid and can't figure things out ourselves and we believe all the lies they can throw at us.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  145. Tracy

    I'm Federal employee. I'm not at all surprised at the discrepencies. Though the public may not realize it, many agencies are pushed to get the job done. Period. We do our best most of the time, but with requirements changing almost daily and much confusion, most of us are frustrated too. I don't have the answer but one thing is certain – things like this will happenl. Heck, look at all the errors the private sector makes – Toyota, AIG, the entire banking industry.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  146. SHARON

    Trust is earned, not an entitlement. I've never felt so disheartened.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  147. Allan A Alexander


    Ever since 1980 the Unemplotyment and CPI have been purposely
    understated. Every business knows this but it has been political
    suicide to mention it.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  148. Roger Hull

    Absolutely NOT! Democrat, Republican, Administration staff, Senior Executive Service or Civil Service bureaucrat...they ALL arrive at numbers that promote their agenda, and they ALL spin the numbers to further their cause. Remember, "figures don't lie, but liers figure." I can't believe it! We're about to have over two million federal employees. Not one production line; all sucking from tax revenues and loans from China. Our goose is cooked!

    February 4, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  149. Rene

    I have been looking for a permanent, full-time job since graduating with a master's degree last year. I am not counted in these figures, and do not qualify for unemployment.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  150. SHARON

    Trust is earned, not an entitlement. I've never felt so disheartened.

    Marietta, Ga.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  151. Susan in Boston


    When neither those who have gone on to extended unemployment benefits, nor those who have exausted benefits altogether, are included in the official figure, the number is a joke before anyone even begins counting. A bad joke.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
  152. Kim in Dodge City, KS

    We all know that our government is not in the truth telling business, never has been and never will be. Since accuracy is not their strong suit I would suggest they stick to things they can do, like going on wasteful junkets and giving themselves raises as rewards for not accomplishing anything. Besides, it's not politically correct to use the words trust and government in the same sentence, and we're all about being politically correct these days.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  153. Diane, Montreal

    Why so little comments tonight and less than usual during the week? Is it that less and less people have access to cable TV because they do not have money? They will perhaps appear in govt. statistics... under poor or under unemployment...

    February 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
  154. Ramesh, SF CA

    My dog ate my jobs report. Can I rewrite?

    February 4, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
  155. Tom Joad

    "What you talkin' 'bout Willis?!"

    The government distorts everything. They have to. Could Government Motors (GM) compete against Toyota with out slandering them? Could Uncle Sam afford to pay entitlements without distorting the real GDP?
    What would the REAL unemployment numbers be if it were measured the same way it was prior to Nixon changing it?

    Heads I win. Tails you lose.

    I tell you what, just let America see the M3 and we can figure it out ourselves.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  156. William Courtland

    They do not know the true number of citizens.
    They do not know the true number of illegals
    They do not know the true number who never got social insurance numbers
    They do not know the true number of the unemployed
    They have the number of people currently taking unemployment benefits. And that expires in time.

    So the government number does not include the college students who never gained employ, the few who took part time jobs and lost them, or those who took low wage jobs without benefits and lost those..

    The number is likely near 70 million.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  157. William Courtland

    They do not count the mentally ill, or the sick because of bad working conditions or bad nutrition. They do not count the people who have no homes....

    The list of the forgotten is long.

    February 4, 2010 at 8:55 pm |