At CSM Hit Piece, Former Biden Economist Calls Perry 'Keynesian,' Errs in Using BLS Data

August 18th, 2011 1:21 AM

The Christian Science Monitor appears to have a problem monitoring its bloggers. Even though it asserts that its "diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there ... (have) responsibility for the content of their blogs," the largely respected CSM should understand that Jared Bernstein has just embarrassed it bigtime.

To its credit, CSM describes Bernstein, currently a senior fellow at the very liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Director emeritus: Marian Wright Edelman), as a Biden/Democrat hack: "Jared was chief economist to Vice President Joseph Biden and executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class." But unless CSM wants to be seen as a place like the Huffington Post, where it seems that anyone can throw up anything regardless of its truthfulness (I'm talking to you, Sam Stein), it needs to at least fact-check info with an obvious surface stench -- and I could smell the acrid aroma from Bernstein's item here in Ohio. His woeful Wednesday post goes beyond predictable cherry-picking into the realm of flat-out errors.

Here is the graph Bernstein employs to supposedly prove his contention that "Texas and the government are chummier than you'd think" (included for fair use, discussion and humiliation purposes):


Bernstein claims that the graph portrays "the net number of private and public sector jobs lost and gained in Texas from 2007 to 2010," meaning that he purports it to show what happened between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2010.

It doesn't, as these partial charts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will show:


Incredibly, especially for an economist, Bernstein used the annual averages for 2007 and 2010 as his comparison points instead of going from the end of 2006 to the end of 2010 to pick up what happened during the entire four-year period he told readers he was presenting. Readers can see that the actual results differ significantly when compared to Jared's Junk, specifically: 214,000 total jobs gained instead of 53,000 lost; 73,000 private sector gains instead of 178,000 losses; and 141,000 government job gains instead of 125,000

If Jared Bernstein is one of "the best economy-related bloggers out there," I'm Milton Friedman. Let's look at what has happened during two more logical benchmarking points: the three years ended June 2011, which includes the recession as normal people define it plus the subsequent two years, and the two years also ended June 2011, focusing on the period of "recovery" alone (all figures are not seasonally adjusted, consistent with the tables Bernstein used):

Three years ended June 2011:
USA: -6,086K total jobs lost, consisting of -5,674K in the private sector and -412K in the public sector
Texas: -33K total jobs lost, consisting of -120K in the private sector and +87K in the public sector

Two years ended June 2011:
USA: +709K total jobs gained, consisting of +1,188K in the private sector and -479K in the public sector
Texas: +302K total jobs gained, consisting of +263K in the private sector and +39K in the public sector

The data is subject to revision (new state info will be released on Friday morning), but I would expect that such revisions won't significantly affect the overall results. Clearly, the past two and three years have been better in Texas than in the rest of the country. The increases in Lone Star State public sector employment are roughly proportional to the state's increased overall population in each instance cited in this post. Further investigation would be needed, but it may be that local governments in Texas have been able to avoid firing thousands of public employees because their pay and benefits packages are not ridiculously out of whack with what is seen in the private sector, as is definitely the case here in Ohio.

There are other points I could make about Bernstein's underlying article, which is a series of barely disguised childish taunts. But why bother? The underlying data he used is so obviously wrong, doing so would be a waste of time.

Instead of engaging in erroneous cherry-picking, Jared Bernstein should be on his knees every night thanking God for Texas. Imagine how awful the nation's economic stats would be without the Lone Star State's positive contributions.

Cross-posted at