Out of Control Policy Blog

Let them eat indexes!

My colleague Adam Summers pointed out this interesting column.

How does the BLS know that there were 274,000 new jobs? Not by counting them. It has a statistical formula which includes the likely creation of new businesses and the likely demise of old businesses. This is called the birth-death ratio.

Let me assure you, the journalists who report the employment figures do not report the following. That's because hardly anyone knows about it, and of those who do, hardly anyone understands it, and of those who do understand it, hardly anyone knows what the BLS formula is or how the samples are made. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does publish a page about the birth-death ratio.

. . .

So, the corporations used their statistically overfunded pension funds as a convenient ATM machine. The pension funds became a source of operating expenses, especially medical costs. In other words, the corporations did exactly what the trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund have done ever since 1938.

and more. Again, the whole thing is here.

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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