The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

How to lie with figures

Jan 19, 2004

When the government issued its latest job report, the unemployment rate appeared to have gone down two-tenths of one percentage point. Bush was quick to brag that his tax cuts were working to bring about job growth.

There's one little fly in Bush's big pot of snake oil, however. The number of people working decreased in December by 54,000. Not only did manufacturing continue to cut jobs – as it has for the past 40 months; so did retail and financial services. The official unemployment rate went down only because so many people were unable to find a job last month that over 300,000 of them gave up looking.

In the real world, they were still unemployed and still scraping to find a way to survive – moving in with relatives or friends, or even ending up in the street.

Bush says his tax cuts affected unemployment. If so, it was only to help put more people into a desperate situation.