“Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure” is a quip attributed to Mark Twain. Case in point: the figures in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report for July. These state an unemployment rate of 5.4% plus 943,000 new jobs — and yet do not accurately reflect what is happening to U.S. workers. These are the figures that the mass media is relying on to argue that the U.S. economy has rebounded from COVID-19.
Only a few stories in the torrent of upbeat news reports mention the fact that — even with an average of more than 830,000 new job hires over the past few months — the U.S. economy still has a shocking 5.8 million fewer jobs than in February 2020.
Most of the data the BLS collected for its July report came from the first half of July, before the surge in COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant.
Different angles in statistics
The mass media is widely…