August 10, 2004

#163: A "spin" against "spinning"

P. Krugman

Paul Krugman surprised us a little bit today in Spin the Payrolls (08/10/04). We thought the Bush administration had done such a lousy job of promoting the positive economic outlook that Krugman might just leave them to flounder. But no! Never one to pass up a column on the cheap, he did a cut and paste job from his previous columns on the jobs picture and wrote a "spin" against "spinning."

The result is heavy handed and a good column to skip. But anyone who wants a balanced, informative view of the complexities of the job market should read this article by Floyd Norris, Krugman's colleague at the Times and chief financial correspondent. As Norris points out there is probably no single best way to look at any economic data. Hence, there is no substitute for a comprehensive examination of a subject. In that spirit he offers this graph showing the growing and remarkable discrepancy between the household and business establishment surveys of job creation.

Norri, employment chart

No one really understands what is causing this discrepancy – it's probably more than just job definitional differences – but Krugman has no trouble finding that the payroll survey that makes the Bush administration look worse. Is there any doubt that if a Democrat were in the White House he would be touting the household survey instead?

Oh well. At least he's "the devil we know!"

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. ]

Posted by John Weidner at August 10, 2004 9:17 AM
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