Sunday, September 19, 2010

NYPost: Are Poll Workers Being Used to Inflate Jobs Total?

Thanks to a reader for highlighting this story in the NY Post, as written by John Crudele.  Crudele is a gentleman who does not live within the matrix, hence he seems to get some interesting tidbits from his readership.  This spring he had a few stories on the games the Census department was playing to goose the job figures by hiring, then firing, then rehiring workers. (May 25, 2010 article)
  • The worker, Naomi Cohn, told The Post that she was hired and fired a number of times by Census. Each time she was hired back, it seems, Census was able to report the creation of a new job to the Labor Department.  Labor doesn't check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month. So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor. 
  • Here's a note from a Census worker -- this one from Manhattan:  "John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census. 
    "I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs.

But that's old 'news' ...

Now there seems to have been an interesting development in the classification of (very) temporary poll workers.  If these are going to be counted by the Labor department as "hires" for monthly fiction reporting purposes, it is going to be quite obvious.  New York for example has 30-36,000 polling workers.  Let's estimate NY as a bigger than average state, and say the national average is 10,000 to make it easy.  That is 500,000 new "jobs" created nationwide, and most would filter into the next 2 employment reports so a "bonus" of say 200-300K jobs in each month.  Considering how wimpy private payroll creation has been, this would stick out like a sore thumb as we'd see a surge in government hirign... so let's keep an eye out on this just in case we have a gap up of 8% in a few weeks on "huge job creation out of the blue".   Another strange random fact is in October the employment data is not reported the first Friday of the month as it is every month... but the second.  Hmmm..

Via NY Post:
  • Workers at polling places for today's primary and November's general election are being required to file tax withholding forms for the first time ever in a move that could be aimed at inflating the nation's employment numbers.   Is this really a little Election Eve trick? Here's what I learned, you decide.

    The New York City Board of Elections, which uses 30,000 to 36,000 temporary workers for both the primary and general election, said it is being ordered by the Internal Revenue Service to make "employees" out of the very temporary workers who tend the polling sites. 

    But an IRS spokesperson couldn't find such an order.
    "The Internal Revenue Service has determined that all poll workers are considered employees of the Board of Elections for tax purposes," said a Board memo dated Aug. 2 and signed by Rosanna Kostamoulas Rahmouni, coordinator of Election Day Operations.

    Although the note was dated Aug. 2 it apparently wasn't delivered to poll workers until very late in August. Workers get paid only $100 for training and $200 each day for working the primary and general election. So it's unlikely that the main purpose of this order is to collect the measly amount of taxes that would be owed -- mostly by the low-income retirees who man the polling centers -- on such a small amount of wages.

    But if the election boards in all 50 states suddenly report an influx of additional government workers, the effect on the monthly employment numbers could be very, very significant. 

    As you know, the monthly employment report -- in which the number of jobs created or lost by the US economy is revealed -- is closely watched by the public and the financial community. And it's often cited publicly by President Obama

    The next employment report before the election will come on Oct. 8.

    Because this report is more complex than others it is being released on the second Friday of October, not the first Friday. (Mark's note: why is it "more complex"?) And because of this it will be one week closer to the election.

    There won't be another employment report until days after the Nov. 2 election.  
    So any temporary poll workers included in the October count wouldn't be removed until voters have already decided on who will represent them.

    I couldn't find figures on how many poll workers there are throughout the country.  

    But if New York alone hires 30,000 to 36,000 workers, the nationwide figures could easily rival the contribution that Census 2010 had on employment figures in earlier months this year.

    "I have been a poll worker (for) many years," wrote one of my readers, who alerted me to this situation, "and after all these years, on Aug. 31, we received a letter in the mail from the Board of Elections stating the IRS has determined that if we work the polls we are now considered employees of the BofE."  So is this all a coincidence or something more?

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