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Steep drop in unemployment rate spawns conspiracy

October 6, 2012 • Business


FILE – In this Sept. 27, 2006 file photo, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch addresses students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Mass. Conspiracy theorists came out in force Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, after the government reported a sudden drop in the U.S. unemployment rate one month before Election Day. Welch tweeted his skepticism five minutes after the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate had fallen to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent the month before. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sasquatch might as well have traipsed across the White House lawn Friday with a lost Warren Commission file on his way to the studio where NASA staged the moon landing.

Conspiracy theorists came out in force after the government reported a sudden drop in the U.S. unemployment rate one month before Election Day. Their message: The Obama administration would do anything to ensure a November victory, including manipulating unemployment data.

The conspiracy was widely rejected. Officials at the Labor Department said the jobs figures are calculated by highly trained government employees without any political interference. Democrats and even some Republicans said they also found the charges implausible.

Yet that didn’t stop the chatter. The allegations were a measure of how politicized the monthly unemployment report has become near the end of a campaign that has focused on the economy and jobs.

The conspiracy erupted after former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, a Republican, tweeted his skepticism five minutes after the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate had fallen to 7.8 percent in September from 8.1 percent the month before.

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