If the average Twitter user had said it, the statement might have raised an eyebrow. But this being a former business titan, the nation sat up and took notice—could the Labor Department be cooking the books?
Probably not. According to a Labor Department spokesman, department economists and statisticians are not political appointees and, don't report to political appointees. Even Welch himself, in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece defending his tweet, stuck to discussing the (very real) statistical uncertainty in the numbers and the complicated way that the Labor Department measures the jobless rate, largely leaving aside the accusation of White House impropriety.
"The good news is that the current debate has resulted in people giving the whole issue of unemployment data more thought," he wrote. One thing for certain came out of this kerfuffle: there is very real evidence that the unemployment rate can decline amid a worsening job market. There is not evidence that the president is putting his thumb on the scales.
Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at email@example.com.