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Conspiracy theorists are suggesting that the decline in the jobless rate last month from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent is the result of political manipulation.
But career government officials, economists and even some Republicans say the charge is nonsense.
Unemployment numbers are produced by several dozen people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The experts work under tight security and without White House input or supervision. The data used by the BLS is collected by Census workers who interview Americans in about 60,000 households or visit them door-to-door.
The conspiracy theories erupted after former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, a Republican, tweeted his skepticism five minutes after the BLS announced the unemployment rate at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time. Welch charged that "these guys from Chicago will do anything." Florida Congressman Allen West called the report "Orwellian."
But former BLS commissioner Keith Hall, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, says the numbers are "very trustworthy" and would be impossible to manipulate.
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