Welch's Tweet and the Jobs Number Conspiracy

Following the unexpected drop in the unemployment rate, former GE Chairman & CEO Jack Welch tweeted “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.” (Check out the Twitter reaction)

He later told the Wall Street Journal that he wasn't kidding.


Former GOP presidential candidate John McCain added his voice to the debate.

"Frankly I am not enough of an economist to question exactly what those numbers," McCain said Friday on CNBC. "...I wouldn't put anything past this administration."

CNBC’s own Rick Santelli, sometimes known for having an opinion, chimed in as well on Squawk right after the numbers were released, adding “I told you they’d get it under 8 percent, they did, let America decide how they got there.”

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, appearing on CNBC, said any conspiracy theory about the latest jobs number is "ludicrous."

"I'm insulted when I hear that, because we have a very professional civil service organization. These are our best trained and most skilled individuals," she said on "Squawk on the Street."

Of course, it's not just Republicans throwing conspiracy stones. Early this morning on CNBC’s "Squawk Box," Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, suggested that the GOP controlled house specifically tried to slow down the economy before the election to undermine the President and pave the way for a Romney/republican victory.

“They want to slow the economy before the election. And if you don’t believe that then I have a bridge I want to sell ya in Brooklyn. That is what the Republican obstructionists in Congress have been about.” The governor added “the fact of the matter is every single jobs bill the Republicans in Congress have voted against.”

Today's action just brought to a boil what's been bubbling for some time. The idea that the White House can manipulate government numbers has been suggested by Republican leaning folks throughout the campaign. And, indeed, Democratic folks suggest the same thing when it's a GOP White House. (And there are some people who believe the government manipulates everything, regardless of party).

The folks that actually put together the numbers say it's impossible to doctor the numbers, given the number of economists and the teamwork involved.

But such rigging suggestions are likely to continue because of the importance of the employment numbers and the presidential elections. Indeed, many economists and academics have spent generous amounts of research time looking at the connection between the two. And it generally shows that 8 percent is the dividing line between elected and unelected for most incumbents.

No wonder, then, the drop in today’s number from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent is causing such teeth-gnashing.


Nick Dunn is managing editor of CNBC's television operation in the United States. Allen Wastler is managing editor of CNBC.com. Follow him on Twitter @AWastler. You can catch his commentary on CNBC Radio. And check out his fiction.