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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Can we trust this morning's surprisingly good employment report?

  • The short answer: Yes.

The longer answer: No statistics are entirely reliable, and the more of an outlier you're trying to measure, the less reliable your statistics become.

The big picture: No one at the Bureau of Labor Statistics is trying to commit fraud. The agency was doing its very best to be accurate in October 2012, when employment figures made Obama look good, and it's doing its very best to be accurate in June 2020, when the same report makes Trump look better than many expected.

  • What they're saying: It's possible that "the models used to produce these numbers — they aren't really raw data — have gone haywire in a time of pandemic," says Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman.

By the numbers: The official unemployment rate includes millions of Americans recorded as employed but absent from work due to "other reasons." Most economists agree those people should have been included as being unemployed on a temporary layoff, but for consistency's sake they were not.

  • The household survey, which measures unemployment, only managed to reach 67% of the people it tried to poll. That's down 15 percentage points from normal. Still, its results are in line with the results of the establishment survey, which measures employment, and whose response rate held up much better.

The bottom line: All macroeconomic statistics should be taken with a large grain of salt right now. That said, this morning's report is undeniably good news.

Go deeper

Biden: I don't blame Trump for COVID crisis but for walking away

In his first interview since announcing Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, Joe Biden told ABC's David Muir that he doesn't blame President Trump for the COVID crisis but for "walking away and not dealing with the solutions."

Why it matters: Trump has been criticized for his administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. has reported more deaths from COVID-19 and more cases than any other country.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
27 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Higher education expands its climate push

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

Ina Fried, author of Login
53 mins ago - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.