The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is investigating news reports that the Census Bureau’s unemployment figures were based on fraudulent data.
Congressional Republicans requested documents from the bureau related to allegations by the New York Post that fraudulent data was frequently used when calculating the national unemployment rate during the 2012 election cycle in a Monday letter to Census Bureau Director John Thompson.
Two sources told the New York Post that the Census Bureau’s surveys that are used to calculate the national unemployment are routinely fabricated. They said the trend increased during the 2012 presidential election, when positive job reports were vital to Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
The unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 to 7.8 percent in September 2012. The number of Americans who said they had a job rose sharply by 873,000.
The September 2012 report was released on Oct. 5, and was the last report before the November presidential election.
Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), Census Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Blake Farenthold (R. Texas), and Joint Economic Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas) said the "shocking" allegations "raise the prospect that use of fabricated data is a widespread problem."
"The implications of an unreliable unemployment figure are serious and far-reaching," the congressmen wrote. "The national unemployment rate affects everything from legislation on Capitol Hill, to Federal Reserve policy, to stock prices on Wall Street."
The Census Bureau said on Tuesday it was referring the report to its inspector general but did not believe widespread fraud had occurred.
"We have no reason to believe that there was a systematic manipulation of the data described in media reports," Census said in a statement. "We carefully cross check and verify the work of our staff to ensure the data's validity."
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed the story.
"That story is obviously misleading," Carney told ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl. "I think a lot of people shed a lot of credibility engaging in conspiracy theories last fall about, you know, rigged jobs numbers."
"So, there’s nothing to any of this?" Karl asked.
"Absolutely not," Carney said.