In case we run out of meaningless numbers

There are always the monthly job reports, and they set the bar for worthlessness:

I hate to be a cynical contrarian (actually, who am I kidding) but headlines like Jobs report upends 2012 race just strike me as dumb.

Why should a ‘jobs report’ have any effect on anything? I’m pretty sure people know whether they have jobs. If they were disgruntled before some statistic was released, they should be equally disgruntled after. If they were happy, they should stay happy. These statistics have no reality unto themselves; they’re not even correct for crying out loud. They are literally always revised later. They represent some economist’s best guess after throwing some numbers into a spreadsheet. It’s not nothing, but we need to stop treating them with such reverence and reacting like trained seals.

I demur; I think they really are nothing. If these little snapshots of unreality were of any actual value, somebody else would be compiling them and turning a profit on them. The Feds are mandated by the Constitution to gather exactly one set of statistics: the population, every ten years, for purposes of Congressional reapportionment. Everything else is mission creep.

1 comment

  1. Jeff Brokaw »

    7 June 2012 · 9:21 am

    I’ll make the case that employment numbers are worse than nothing, because they actively misrepresent reality by not counting people who have been out of work so long they gave up looking. They still have to eat.

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