Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

A Simple Point

This post is so long some readers may have been deterred from reading it just by its length.

But there is at least one simple fact that bears separating out (previously noted by Steve Verdon, but I think worth repeating):

If one measures "jobs" by total civilian employees on nonfarm payrolls (seasonally adjusted or not), Paul Krugman it is not correct when he says that George Bush may be the first occupant of the White House since Herbert Hoover to end a term with fewer jobs available than when he started.

Eisenhower is a clear counterexample, according to BLS statistics:

January 1957 Seasonally Adjusted Total Civilian Employment: 45268

January 1961 Seasonally Adjusted Total Civilian Employment: 44208

The need to rely on some other specific measure of "jobs" to justify Herr Doktorprofessor's flashy claim is inconsistent with the highly dramatic effect the claim is intended to convey. That makes the claim an ineffective gimmick, not an insight.

Steve Verdon also helpfully recalls an old letter from Kenneth Arrow taking Herr Doktorprofessor to task for sloppy misrepresentations of fact.

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