The Grand Old Partisan of Illinois

Friday, June 09, 2006

Fact Checking the Other 20,500

There have been a lot of posts on several different blogs today, including Rich’s, regarding the Governor’s job numbers statement.

Greg Blankenship of the Illinois Policy Institute fact checked, and determined that “they have the numbers right, this time." He is right, in regards to the 23,600 reported for April. But, as he says earlier in his post, "there are other aspects of these numbers, however, that one could question." Like, the 43,600 jobs supposedly created in "in the last three months."

Well, allow me.

The February and March BLS reports do not list figures for Illinois because they did not reach the “statistically significant” mark. Now 20,500 (43,600 – 23,100) divided any way over 2 months would have appeared on at least one of those reports. The lowest figures considered statistically significant in those two months were 2,000 and 3,200.

To be sure, this wasn’t an oversight by the BLS in February and March. The ‘over-the-year’ change from April 05-April 06 is 56,500, according to the BLS. That means that 33,400 jobs were created from April 05-March 06, which averages out to about 3,000 a month.

Something doesn’t add up, right? Well, remember that the Governor’s statement references “state and federal figures” (emphasis added). The only logical explanation is that the state figures for February and March differ from what the Feds counted. Isn't it reasonable to ask why? Or how?

Don’t get me wrong, 23,100 jobs is fantastic. We should be excited, and the Governor has every right to boast about it. I know I would, if I were him. But we should take a closer took at what else he is claiming, and perhaps wait a month before we get too excited or pat him on the back too much. It seems very likely that this April was a pleasant outlier in what has been a far less impressive trend. If that is the case, then it’ll be harder to argue that April was “the result of the governor's policies,” as his spokesperson has claimed.

Also posted, with comments, at Illinoize