A new Philadelphia Federal Reserve report has sparked the Tucker-Carlson conspiracy. Here’s what the report says and what it means.
“Why are they lying to us about this?” asked Tucker Carlson, Fox News analyst and host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday.
The lie, he says, is the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the labor market. Jobs data was overblown, Carlson says, which in turn helped Democrats retain control of the US Senate in November and gave Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell ammunition to continue his rate hike campaign. According to Carlson, “the administration wants Powell to raise interest rates because they believe that this will offset the inflation caused by Joe Biden’s policies.”
The basis for Carlson’s claim is a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The regional central bank has begun publishing a report called Early Standard Reviews of State Payroll Employment, and it draws not only on current BLS employment statistics — the basis for monthly payroll data — but also the quarterly censuses of employment and wages.
(Note that the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia relies on BLS data — the alleged source of the conspiracy, according to Carlson — to produce its numbers.)
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said last week that only 10,500 new jobs were added between March and June, compared to the 1.05 million reported in the nonfarm payrolls reports.
In the previous two quarters that the Philadelphia Fed examined, it didn’t find much disparity. In the first quarter, the Philadelphia Fed estimated that 1.7 million jobs were created, compared to 1.62 million scheduled by the BLS, and in the fourth quarter of 2021, the Philadelphia Fed estimated that 2.02 million jobs were created, compared to a BLS figure of 1.91 million.
First Trust economists led by Brian Westbury point out that the Philadelphia federal model is new. Given that the Philadelphia Fed has just begun publishing results from its own internal model, which means there isn’t much of a track record going forward, we can say that we should probably treat this report with caution. In theory, everything could be in the works. This model is sound, but even sound models often contradict reality. For example, the ADP model never lived up to the hype,” says economists at First Trust.
In particular, the First Trust team says the problem could be that seasonality is not fully accounted for in the new model.
In fact, the household report — the part of the jobs report used to calculate the unemployment rate — indicates that employment fell by 347,000 in the second quarter.
“Given the divergence between data from household and enterprise surveys in 2022, we wouldn’t be at all surprised by downward revisions to employment data when it’s released in March 2023. But we certainly would account for over 10,500 jobs added in [the second quarter]they say.
Reports from the private sector also did not reveal a significant slowdown in hiring in the second quarter. The National Federation of Independent Business, a trade group for small businesses that surveys traditional conservative membership, found a fairly flat percentage planning to increase hiring over that time period. The American Employment Association’s Employment Index was also flat.
The Institute for Supply Management’s employment indices for manufacturing and services, in June, both slipped into contraction territory, but both recovered in July.
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