September 2, 2004
NEW YORK - Democrats are picking and choosing misleading statistics to back their pessimistic picture of the economy in Arizona and nationally, Commerce Secretary Don Evans said Wednesday after meeting with the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention.
Evans said that all of the broad indicators of economic health show incomes are increasing, jobs are being created and the United States has the fastest-growing economy of any industrialized nation in the world.
"People that are pessimistic about the future can dig around and hunt around and find some data somewhere that may support their case," Evans said in defending President Bush and whether the economy has grown during his tenure. "But when you look at the economy, you have to look at the economic data as a whole, collectively, all together."
Evans said Bush’s tax cuts have stimulated the nation’s economy and pulled the nation out of the economic slump he contends the president inherited.
More Americans are working now than ever before, said Evans, citing the federal household survey that he says presents the most accurate picture of employment. Today there are about 139.7million people working in the United States, compared with about 137.7 million in December 2000, he said.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has two ways to monitor job growth. The household survey is based on a poll of 50,000 households, and shows job creation under Bush. The alternative payroll survey canvasses 400,000 employers, which shows a loss of jobs since he took office.
The household survey is a better gauge because it counts people who make a living in their own businesses but do not have employees, agricultural workers and others who are self-employed, Evans said.
But Sue Walitsky, Arizona spokeswoman for the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, said it is Evans who is selectively using data to build his case.
The more accurate gauge of national employment is the federal payroll survey, the more widely accepted means of monitoring the work force, Walitsky said.
"This is a desperate attempt by this administration to use numbers that are not accurate by any economist’s consideration just to make it look like they are doing more than they have," Walitsky said.
Walitsky cited testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who said in February that the payroll survey is the better standard.
Other figures cited by Evans as evidence of economic strength:
• Unemployment has dropped from about 6.3 percent to 5.5 percent nationally. Arizona’s unemployment rate is about 4.4 percent, compared with about 5.9 percent a year ago.
• After-tax income has increased 10 percent since Bush took office. Average hourly income increased 3.4 percent last year, a higher average annual increase than during the administration of former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat.
• The inflation rate during the Bush administration has been at its lowest point in the last 40 years.
• Interest rates are at a record low.