Even the bad news errs to the upside

Jammie Wearing Fool points out that last week’s terrible jobs number is even worse than advertised:

Now for the really bad news: that 18,000 gain announced by the government yesterday isn’t real. For one thing, the number of jobs increased in June only because the Labor Department simultaneously revised downward the number of jobs that existed in this country during May. It’s like moving the fences at Citi Field so the Mets players can hit more home runs. It might make Jose Reyes feel better, but it doesn’t actually make him more powerful. Without the fence-moving operation in the May employment report, the June number — yesterday’s number — would have shown a decline of 26,000 jobs.

Then there’s another problem with June’s employment report. Included in the 18,000 headline number is a guesstimate that 131,000 jobs were created by newly formed — and, therefore, invisible — companies. If you want to send your resume to one of these companies, don’t bother. They probably don’t exist, and neither do the jobs the government thinks they are creating. These figments of the imagination of the Labor Department’s computers will probably disappear when the numbers are checked early next year.

The USA is looking more and more like the old Soviet Union, where the workers pretended to work and the government pretended to pay them. The downward revision game is a pretty transparent one, but it’s been around for a while. Play it right and you can always report rising numbers despite a declining trend.