A group of U.S. Census Bureau employees conspired to artificially lower the unemployment rate from 8.1 percent in August 2012 to 7.8 percent in September 2012 to influence the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the New York Post is reporting.
John Crudele, a business columnist for the newspaper, in a Monday article cited an anonymous employee who claimed the bureau caught an employee but then covered up the falsification. “Confidential Census documents” cited by Crudele indicate the name of the census bureau employee caught faking numbers is Julius Buckmon, and that Buckmon told Crudele that he was asked by his superiors to falsify the data.
But while Crudele says his anonymous source is “reliable" -- and he cites many internal department documents to support his explanation -- his telling of how the alleged fraud was executed is at times difficult to follow, allowing for nagging questions and contradictions.
Buckmon was described as an ambitious employee, conducting three times as many interviews as his peers. He says he was not instructed to use a specific answer when filling out questions pertaining to a fake person’s employment status. But Crudele, citing “people who know how the survey works,” said that the number employed rises as more names are added to the pool. Crudele doesn’t offer any further explanation of the mechanics behind this counterintuitive phenomenon.
Another contradiction in Crudele’s story is his claim that by falsifying the data, Buckmon and his co-conspirators were “essentially, creating people out of thin air …” Earlier in his column, Crudele writes that the surveyors have designated certain families to participate. The people charged with collecting responses can’t just interview anyone they want. This suggests that fabricators weren’t creating whole new identities but rather providing false answers attributed to real people.
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Crudele mentioned that the anonymous employee would be willing to talk with the U.S. Department of Labor and Congress. We were unable to reach representatives of the U.S. Congress and the Labor Department for a comment on whether either group plans to investigate further.
Crudele also contends that the Labor Department’s stringent standards may have helped facilitate the fraud. The department requires surveyors in each of its six regions to achieve a 90 percent contact rate with the individuals targeted to receive a survey. In Philadelphia, the contractors from the U.S. Census Bureau, who conduct the surveys for the Labor Department, decided to falsify survey answers from some of the more recalcitrant families because reaching the 90 percent response rate is too difficult.