Obama’s new theme is “expect me when you least expect me.” A so-called slam dunk 2012 election to replace him is now being called into question by leading Democrats, citing the unexpectedly good jobs report for January.  The markets responded immediately on Friday as the data flowed out.  A closer look at the BLS reports reveals the degree of latitude taken by the administration’s directors in recalculating (yet again) how the government measures unemployment.

As mentioned, the full transcript for the unemployment report seemed fairly ordinary. Looking a bit deeper, there was a reference document mentioned (deep in the footnotes) that described specifically how the census updates impacted how unemployment is measured.

Have a look for yourself! Here’s the summary of how the census update impacted the employment data:

  • 42,000 more people were labeled as unemployed under the new methodology
  • 216,000 more people were labeled as becoming employed under the new methodology

With a bit of simple arithmetic, 174,000 net additional jobs were added by simply changing the calculation.

Sound fishy to you?  Explain that one to me #CelebrityInChief. How do you go about claiming victory after a single month of good data, and especially when the results could be called into question due to calculation changes.

The market had expected only 150,000 additional jobs to be created, so the 243,000 number really took them by surprise.  If the calculation was not changed, we’d have fallen considerably short at 69,000 net additions.