The US Census Bureau allegedly fabricated data between August and September 2012, which would already be unacceptable, but John Crudele has written an article in the New York Post insinuating that it was some sort of campaign tactic by the Obama administration.

Census Bureau

Census Bureau worker was told to fabricate numbers

The unemployment rate fell from 8.1% in August to 7.9% in September, and some people cried foul at what was seen as unrealistic month-on-month improvement. Once households are chosen to be a part of the unemployment survey, the Department of Labor requires that at least 90% of them actually be contacted to ensure the integrity of the results, but at least one employee at the Census Bureau, Julius Buckmon, was caught making up numbers.

“It was a phone conversation — I forget the exact words — but it was, ‘Go ahead and fabricate it’ to make it what it was,” Buckmon told Crudele.

“Buckmon says he was never told how to answer the questions about whether these nonexistent people were employed or not, looking for work, or have given up,” Crudele writes. “But people who know how the survey works say that simply by creating people and filling out surveys in their name would boost the number of folks reported as employed.”

Claims could be overblown, misinterpreted

The second statement doesn’t really make sense. If Buckmon makes up 100 people and says they are all employed, he artificially deflates the actual unemployment rate. If he makes up 100 people and says they are all unemployed he will artificially inflate it instead. His actions may have boosted the reported raw number of people with jobs either way, but they wouldn’t necessarily boost the percentage, a distinction Crudele should probably have pointed out. Since Buckmon says he wasn’t told to push the numbers in any particular direction, this sounds more like bureaucratic incompetence than political corruption.

According to Crudele’s sources, Buckmon isn’t the only person at Census doing this sort of thing, and since important policy decisions are made using Census data, that’s a serious problem. Labor has said that it’s investigating the matter, as it should, but based on what we currently know trying to spin this as dirty campaign tactics is a bit of a stretch.