Ex-DC Labor Statistics head: Jobs numbers don't provide accurate reading on economy

Think the economy is bouncing back quickly? Think again, says the former top number-cruncher in charge of the Washington Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Keith Hall tells the New York Post Thursday that the BLS, White House and media are wasting time focusing on an edited set of data and using it to paint an incorrect picture of the American jobs market on the mend. The current U.S. unemployment level is reported to be around 7.6 percent.

“Right now [it’s] misleadingly low,” Hall told the New York paper.

Hall, like many other economists, believes that the more accurate reading of Americans who want a job but can’t find one is north of 10 percent.

Hall is now a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

He says the jobless rate that grabs the most headlines -- called the U-3 -- doesn’t factor in people who have stopped looking for work, but does count employed people who have clocked in as little as an hour of work during the prior month.

Hall says another more accurate indicator of the country’s economic health is in the U-6 number, which factors in the underemployed. That number, he said, jumped in June to 14.3 percent from 13.8 percent the month before.

“This has been a very slow, very bad recovery,” he said. “And I think the numbers have really struggled as a result. In fact, I’ve been very disappointed in the coverage of the numbers.”

The July monthly jobs report is scheduled to be released Aug. 2.