Georgia Governor Nathan Deal decided today would be a good opportunity to spin a conspiracy theory about unemployment rates, when faced with new BLS data showing that his state now has an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent — the highest in the country:
"It's ironic that in a year in which Republican governors are leading some of the states that are making the most progress, that they almost, without exception, are classified as having a bump in their unemployment rates," he said in a clip circulated by the Democratic Governors Association. "Whereas states that are under Democrat governors' control, they are all showing that their unemployment rate has dropped. And I don't know how you account for that. Maybe there is some influence here that we don't know about."
This is, shall we say, not true. The BLS numbers for August saw biggish unemployment jumps in Maryland and Vermont along with Georgia and South Carolina. There were also big declines in unemployment in Michigan (Republican governor) and Kentucky (Democratic governor).
A better argument for Deal might be that the very same report shows that Georgia added 15,800 jobs in August — coming in at number three behind California and Florida. So Georgia's spike in the unemployment rate may simply be because more people are looking for work and that means they're counted in the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate doesn't count workers who've grown discouraged and stopped searching for a job, and so a rising unemployment rate can, at times, be evidence of recovery, as it can mean discouraged workers are returning to the labor force.