How the Federal Government Got into the Economic Data Business

Email a Friend
The unemployment line at the FDR memorial  in Washington, D.C.
From and

The September jobs report finally arrived today, delayed nearly three weeks because of the government shutdown.

The September jobless numbers show unemplyment down to 7.2% while the US economy added a relatively tepid 148 thousand new jobs. 

The numbers show that the unemployment rate ticked down to 7.2 percent, though the U.S. economy added a relatively tepid 148,000 new jobs.

Despite the shutdown, the economy kept bumping along without the federal unemployment numbers, data on consumer pricing, or producer pricing. Is the private economy really so dependent on government data? How did the government get into the economic data business in the first place? Should we be looking at data from other sources?

Heidi Moore, finance and economics editor for The Guardian U.S., examines the history and credibility of federal economic data.