“Gallup Truthers” On the Way?

In a rude interruption of the spin battles over the second presidential candidates’ debate, the Gallup organization published its latest estimates of trends in unemployment, and they reinforce the BLS September Jobs Report indication that the unemployment rate is finally and significantly dropping:

U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, is 7.3% in mid-October, down considerably from 7.9% at the end of September and at a new low since Gallup began collecting employment data in January 2010. Gallup’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 7.7%, also down from September. October’s adjusted mid-month measure is also more than a percentage point lower than October 2011.

Gallup also reported a less favorable number: the percentage of Americans working part-time who want to work full-time is up slightly from September. But at the same time, its measurement of the “underemployment rate” is actually at the lowest rate since Gallup started collecting this data in 2010.

It’s unclear whether these numbers will get more attention than they normally do, since they reinforce what could be an important if modest trend, or will simply be filed away as a leading indicator for what the official BLS October Jobs Report may show when it’s released on November 2, just four days before the election cycle ends.

If they do get a lot of attention, it will be interesting to see how far conservatives go to undermine their credibility. It’s one thing to claim (with zero evidence, of course) that as a government agency BLS is subject to political manipulation. But Gallup? The same outfit whose recent tracking numbers in the presidential race have been applauded so avidly by Republicans? I don’t think so.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.