WASHINGTON, Nov 19 (Reuters) - The Republican leader of a
U.S. House of Representatives investigative committee asked the
Census Bureau on Tuesday for more information related to a media
report that the monthly unemployment rate was manipulated ahead
of the 2012 presidential election.
The New York Post reported that data used in the closely
watched survey was faked in the final stretch of President
Barack Obama's re-election campaign, when the monthly
unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 7.8 percent
from 8.1 percent.
The Census Bureau rejected the allegations and said it had
reported the claims to the Office of the Inspector General as
soon as it learned of them.
"These allegations are shocking," Republican Representative
Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the House Oversight
Committee, said in a letter to Census Bureau Director John
The letter was also signed by Representatives Blake
Farenthold, chairman of an Oversight subcommittee, and Kevin
Brady, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee.
The Republicans sought a broad range of documents and
communication related to the collection of data for the Current
Population Survey, which is used by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics to calculate the unemployment rate.
"We need to better understand whether the Current Population
Survey and other important Census Bureau data are reliable, and
if not, whether Census Bureau officials knowingly and
intentionally fabricated the data on which they are based," the
Farenthold said in a statement that "we intend to thoroughly
investigate these disturbing allegations."
Stacy Gimbel Vidal, a spokeswoman for the Census Bureau,
said: "We have no reason to believe that there was a systematic
manipulation of the data described in media reports."
"As a statistical agency, the Census Bureau is very
conscientious about our responsibility to produce accurate
Current Population Survey data for the Bureau of Labor
Statistics and all other surveys we conduct," she said.
The Post story, citing anonymous sources, said the Census
Bureau had caught an employee faking data for the survey in
2010, and the practice went beyond one employee and had
It said the employees had faked interviews to meet monthly
quotas for the survey.
Vidal said the bureau always cross-checked and verified data
collected by employees to ensure its validity.
"That monitoring process includes re-interviewing
respondents, and rechecking the data an employee has submitted,
looking for red flags that indicate possible fabrication," Vidal
The monthly employment report was watched closely in the
months ahead of the election, as Obama worked to prove his
leadership was turning around the economy.
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