WASHINGTON -- Former General Electric Chief Executive Jack Welch charged Friday that the White House manipulated the sharp drop in the unemployment rate to help President Obama's reelection campaign.
Minutes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the September unemployment rate had surprisingly plunged to 7.8% from 8.1%, Welch took to Twitter to say that the numbers were cooked to give Obama a boost following what many analysts said was a poor debate performance on Wednesday.
"Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change number," Welch tweeted.
Former White House economic aide Austan Goolsbee responded that Welch didn't know what he was talking about. "love ya jack but here you've lost your mind," Goolsbee tweeted.
Welch's aide said he was in meetings and not immediately available for comment.
Economists focused on the possible reasons for the drop in the rate, which fell below 8% for the first time since January 2009 despite mediocre job growth in September of 114,000.
Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae, noted that the Labor Department revised job growth for July and August by an additional 86,000 jobs. That meant the average monthly gain for the third quarter of the year was 146,000, compared to 67,000 for the second quarter.
He said the sharp decline in the unemployment rate "was driven by a gain of 873,000 in household employment, which more than doubled the number of people joining the labor force."
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