True or False: U.S. Economic Stats Lie

The accusation goes like this: Surveyors collect the nation’s data and statisticians compile and report it. Politicians naturally want the numbers to show improvement. Not being able to change the facts, they focus on the handling of facts, pressuring statisticians to change their measurements. It’s not quite one grand conspiracy but decades of minor ones compiled. Today’s reports are so perverted, the theory holds, that the numbers have detached from common experience.

When looking over charts or graphs showing U.S. economic data over time we should remember that the means economists have used to collect these numbers have changed over time. The article discusses a few of these changes, mostly with the way the CPI is calculated.