Questions about the Labor Department's unemployment-rate calculations have migrated from the insane ramblings of Jack Welch's Twitter feed to the House Oversight Committee. In response to a question about the September unemployment rate, chairman Darrell Issa, GOP congressman from California, tells Fox News that he plans to hold hearings on how the rate is calculated. His reasoning:
"The way it is being done with the constant revisions, significant revisions, tells us that it is not as exact science as it needs to be and there’s got to be a better way to get those numbers or don’t put them out if they’re going to be wrong by as much as half a point."
We have no idea how Issa knows that the Labor Department was wrong by half a point, but he is right about one thing: Calculating the unemployment rate isn't an exact science. But it never has been, either, and Issa never seemed to mind before now. Somehow, we don't think the Labor Department's inability to release a 100 percent accurate unemployment rate on its first try is what bothers him. Somehow, we doubt he'd be planning an investigation of the unemployment rate if it had made an unexpected swing in the other direction.
Update: Issa's office has released a statement denying Fox Business News's report that the House Oversight chairman intends to hold hearings on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' methods:
While Chairman Issa, in response to a question asked yesterday, did state that he believes there are legitimate questions about the Department of Labor's method for calculating unemployment, the Oversight Committee has not announced or decided to hold hearings on the September unemployment report. Chairman Issa specifically pointed to the frequent revisions that the Department of Labor often makes to its own numbers in questioning whether more can be done to ensure that they accurately reflect the state of our nation's job market. At no point did he say he has made plans to convene a hearing on this subject.