Column: Labor markets continue to suffer since Great Recession

It is wise to approach the cascade of economic data with some suspicion. Federal economic data sets are almost always revised a bit as more people are surveyed, and late administrative filings are compiled. The data sets often don’t mean exactly what we think they mean.

For example, the employment data we read about treats all jobs the same, whether they are 15 hours or 45 per week. Also, inflation is imperfectly measured, so the real values of anything denominated in currency will be a tad bit wrong. That said, the U.S. has the most sophisticated, apolitical and effective economic data services in the world. They just happen to be administered and reported by men, not angels.

More troublesome than the errors are the tangible difficulties in discerning a trend from these data. That is what economists do, and so we must approach the task with some humility.

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