Are the Jobs Numbers Suspicious?

Conservatives say the September unemployment numbers are a conspiracy created to boost President Barack Obama.

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The unemployment rate fell to 7.8 in September, according to numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The addition of 114,000 jobs, along with upward revisions for July and August, bring unemployment below 8 percent for the first time since January 2009, when President Barack Obama began his term.

Some conservatives have questioned the numbers, calling them suspicious, as the drop comes at a particularly opportune time for Obama. The 2012 presidential campaign has focused largely on the economy, with Republican nominee Mitt Romney hammering the president on poor job creation and inability to lower the jobless rate below 8 percent. The president also delivered a lackluster performance at the first presidential debate on Wednesday, and the lower jobless could boost him again in the eyes of some voters.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Some conservatives say it is clear the data was manipulated to favor Obama so close to the election, with pundits saying the report was intended to discourage conservatives. It's also been suggested that some Democrats lied about getting jobs to enhance the report.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

The conspiracy theories seem far fetched given how insulated the Bureau of Labor Statistics is from political pressures. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis defended the numbers on CNN this morning, saying she was insulted by the suggestions that the numbers were fabricated to boost the president:

[W]e have a very professional, civil service organization where you have top, top economists that work at the BLS. They've been doing these calculations. These are—these are our best trained and best-skilled individuals working in the BLS, and it's really ludicrous to hear that kind of statement.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.]

Democrats have called the conservatives questioning the numbers conspiracy theorists. U.S. News's Robert Schlesinger says it's clear the right will do anything it takes to dismiss any facts that would favor Obama:

[T]he point is that a number of other high profile conservatives skipped right over the rational explanation of facts they don't like and instead embraced a conspiracy.

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