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October 05, 2004

White House Counts Its Chickens: Expecting Significant Upward Revision in FY 2004 Jobs

Bush succeeds by lowering expectations and then exceeding them. When he gets into trouble, it's because he raises expectations and can't match them.

Nevertheless, that seems to be Bush's favored mode for the past couple of years-- overpromise, underdeliver.

If I were in the White House, I wouldn't be telling the press that I expected a significant upward revision in the number of jobs created in the 2004 fiscal year. I would leave that sort of thing to its pajama-wearing partisan political operatives on the internet, such as myself, as well as smooth anonymous sources like Deep Stoat, who I'm pretty sure looks like a young Hal Holbrook, minus the chainsmoking.

And then, if it came to pass-- big, sweet surprise. If it didn't-- no harm, no foul.

But I'm not in the White House. I can keep my name a secret, but there are a lot of West Wing Chatty Kathy's who can't hold their expectations of about the Bureau of Labor Statistcs' end-of-year jobs revisions on the QT.

They're raising expectations, which could cause a crushing disappontment on Friday if those expectations aren't met, and accusations of "political manipulation" if they are.

But here is what they're saying:

NEW YORK, Oct 5 (Reuters) - White House economists expect that this week's revisions to nonfarm payrolls data, the last released before the Nov. 2 presidential elections, may show substantial labour market gains for the March 2003 to March 2004 period, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The newspaper cited a memo by U.S. President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers as stating that revised data for March 2003-March 2004 could be revised upward by 288,000 jobs, and [even] as much as 384,000.

...

The White House estimate, prepared by career CEA technical staff, has no effect on what the independent Bureau of Labor Statistics will actually report on Friday, the article said.

...

According to the article, the CEA memo uses publicly available unemployment insurance records to calculate that employment from March 2003 through December 2003 grew by 288,000, or 32,000 per month, more than previously published BLS estimates.

The Journal also cited the memo as saying "it is tempting" to extrapolate the monthly figure out to March 2004, producing a total increase of 384,000.

But it downplays the higher figure, warning that employment in the first three months of the year could well be revised down, not up, citing other data revisions that tilt in that direction.

Anything that's "tempting" is probably something you shouldn't do. That's half of what makes it so tempting.

So, now we've established a Bar for Success for the liberal legacy media, which the Bush Administration is required to clear and beat just to be considered to have not failed. And anything lower than 300,000 revised FY 2004 jobs will be called a failure.

Dumb. Very dumb, guys.

The White House needs a new man as Chief of Staff, and that man's name is Vinny Falcone.

Since they've already raised expectations, I'll speculate a bit further. Bush is down, what now?, around 900,000 jobs, right? 250,000 jobs created in September plus 300,000 revised 2004 jobs knocks that deficit down by another 550,000, leaving Bush's fabled "jobs deficit" at around 350,000 -- a number of jobs he'll almost certainly create by the end of his first term, if not the November 2 election.

Anything better than that is gravy. It is not inconceivable that a big September combined with a very big upward revision would almost entirely eliminate the jobs deficit by the end of the week.

But let's not get hopes up. Job creation has been inadequate for the past three or four months.


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posted by Ace at 03:00 AM

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