NYT Columnist Suggests Without Evidence Trump Cooked Unemployment Report

Paul Krugman / AP
June 5, 2020

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said on Friday that President Trump may have falsified the results of a favorable Labor Department jobs report.

"This being the Trump era, you can't completely discount the possibility that they've gotten to the [Bureau of Labor Statistics]," Krugman said in a tweet Friday morning. "But it's much more likely that the models used to produce these numbers — they aren't really raw data — have gone haywire in a time of pandemic."

The May jobs report, released Friday, was expected to show a 19.8 percent unemployment rate but instead revealed a rate of 13.3 percent. The April jobs report showed a 14.4 percent unemployment rate, the worst since the Great Depression.

Jason Furman, an Obama-era chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, denounced Krugman within half an hour, saying Trump could not have doctored the report. He added that Krugman's implication undermined the integrity of career Labor Department officials.

New York Times contributor and Brookings Institution fellow Justin Wolfers also denounced Krugman's claim, calling it "a bad tweet" and saying the employment data "weren't tampered with and Paul knows it."

Krugman later apologized for suggesting a "highly professional agency might have been corrupted."

"I was just covering myself, because so many weird things have happened lately," he wrote.

President Donld Trump held a news conference Friday morning on the decline in unemployment as the economy begins to recover from coronavirus shutdowns.

"They thought the number would be a loss of nine million jobs, and it was a gain of almost three million jobs," Trump said. "This leads us on to a long period of growth. We'll go back to having the greatest economy anywhere in the world ... and I think we're going to have a very good upcoming few months."

Published under: Paul Krugman