Weekly Standard Cherry-Picks BLS Data To Attack Obama's Economic Record

A May 23 Weekly Standard blog post highlighted by The Drudge Report attacked President Obama's economic record by listing the 30 months with the lowest employment-population ratio in the past 25 years and pointing out that all of them have occurred during Obama's administration. But by presenting the data -- pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website -- in list form, The Weekly Standard doesn't present the employment situation honestly. As the BLS data clearly show, the employment-population ratio was already on a steep decline that began in January 2008 under President Bush -- a year before Obama took office -- and that has since stabilized.

The Weekly Standard used the BLS statistics to claim that, in terms of the employment-population ratio, “over the past 25 years, the worst month under any other president has beaten the best month under Obama.” Here is a portion of the list from The Weekly Standard, which continues in the same fashion:

1. (tie) July 2011, 58.2 percent, President Barack Obama
1. (tie) June 2011, 58.2 percent, Obama
1. (tie) November 2010, 58.2 percent, Obama
1. (tie) December 2009, 58.2 percent, Obama
5. (tie) August 2011, 58.3 percent, Obama
5. (tie) December 2010, 58.3 percent, Obama

But there's a reason that the BLS doesn't present its own data this way. Simply listing months with low employment-population ratios ignores trends in employment data. Instead of simply linking to the BLS website, The Weekly Standard changed the way the data was presented. If you follow The Weekly Standard's link to the BLS data, you find the following chart:


What the chart clearly shows - and that The Weekly Standard ignores -- is that the employment-population ratio was in the midst of a steep decline when Obama took office, caused by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The Weekly Standard correctly points out that previous administrations enjoyed an employment-population ratio in the 60s for years, but its dishonest presentation of the data ignores the clear fact that the forces leading to the low numbers began under the Bush administration.