Feb 2, 2017

The Trump Administration's war on labor statistics

Donald Trump spent much time during his campaign calling the official unemployment rate a "hoax," arguing that "real unemployment" was as much as 40%. These claims had little basis in fact, but they fit the Trumpian narrative that the economy was in disarray.

Friday jobs: The real statistics say the unemployment rate is at historically low levels. Tomorrow's report on new job growth will likely reinforce the strength of the labor market. The forecast is 175,000 new jobs and a 4.7% unemployment rate.

Alternative measures: Even broader measures of the unemployment rate show dramatic improvement in the jobs situation, and levels of unemployment nowhere near 40%.

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Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it matters: Investors and researchers rely heavily on government data, but the Trump Administration has shown antipathy for stats that contradict his world view. Tomorrow's jobs report will be the first of the Trump administration. Watch to see if the White House plays down good news to bolster the narrative of an economy needing saving.

Go deeper

Situational awareness

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Mike Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 NDAs
  2. Wells Fargo to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges
  3. Bloomberg campaign says Tennessee vandalism "echoes language" from Bernie supporters
  4. Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers
  5. Nearly half of Republicans support pardoning Roger Stone

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 nondisclosure agreements

Mike Bloomberg. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg said Friday his company will release women identified to have signed three nondisclosure agreements so they can publicly discuss their allegations against him if they wish.

Why it matters, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Bloomberg’s shift in policy toward NDAs comes as he tries to stanch his loss of female support after the Las Vegas debate. It is an effort to separate the total number of harassment and culture complaints at the large company from those directed at him personally. That could reframe the criticism against him, but also protect the company from legal fallout if all past NDAs were placed in jeopardy.