Economist-turned-Fox Business host Stuart Varney likes nothing more than poking an accusing finger at what most of the rest of us take as accepted truths.
The conservative commentator who says he left England in 1974 to escape its class warfare” visited Jackson Tuesday to address the Mississippi Council on Economic Education. Of course, the question was bound to come up about his claim that last month’s Labor Department report of a drop in the jobless rate to 7.8 percent was somewhat suspicious. He insisted he is not a “conspiracy theorist’” who should be lumped in with Donald Trump’s “truther” brigade that casts doubt on everything from President Obama’s country of origin to his college grades.
Just call the drop in the previous month’s unemployment rate “very, very convenient,” he says
He wouldn’t divulge what he thinks caused such a convenience to occur. Nor would he say whether the whole thing could be attributed to coincidence.
“I just found it absolutely miraculous that 60,000 house servants (the Labor Department) managed to incredibly discover 862,000 new jobs,” Varney explains.
To an interviewer Varney asked: “Aren’t you just a tad suspicious yourself?”
But don’t mistake him for someone who thinks any tampering occurred, he says.
OK. But that still doesn’t explain his theory of “convenience.”
Meanwhile, he predicted Friday’s job numbers for September would include a downward adjustment of new job numbers for the months previous.
They didn’t. In fact, the Labor Department adjusted job creation upward for those months.
But Varney is no longer citing “convenience.” Friday morning the English ex-pat was relying more on what he implied was the U.S. government’s selective use of its numbers.
Job numbers released Friday showed a one-tenth of a percentage point increase in unemployment nationally, even though new jobs jumped by 171,000, including 184,000 new private sector jobs.
What’s missing from the new unemployment rate, Varney says, is the “real unemployment rate.”
That rate is “technically known as U-6,” he says.
But the economic indicator to which Varney referred, known as U-6, is not an unemployment measure as it includes part-time workers who want full-time work.
While Varney may not have full faith in the Labor Department’s job numbers, he says he has faith that Congress won’t push the nation over the fiscal cliff in the months to come. For his comments on that issue and other topics, click on this video by the MBJ’s Stephen McDill.