January 05, 2004

Paul Krugman's Credibility Recession
(Thanks to JPS for pointing out this article to me)

In short, Krugman’s claim that an unusually large number of people have given up looking for work, and the current unemployment figures are therefore "funny," is false, and would be known to be false by any competent economist.

What about Krugman’s second claim, that "many of those who say they have jobs seem to be only marginally employed?" This claim is less transparently a lie, simply because the term "marginally employed" has no technical definition. (I think Luskin goes astray here; he tries to check the accuracy of Krugman’s claim by referring to the BLS data on "Marginally attached workers," which is a defined term. But "marginally attached workers" are, by BLS definition, not working, and Krugman is clearly talking about people who have jobs, but "seem" to him to be working "marginally.")

(...)

Once again, there is simply no truth to Krugman’s claim. As measured by the number of people who would like to be working full-time, but in fact are working part-time, "marginal" employment is at an average level.

Paul Krugman is a sad case: a once-respected economist who has become a shrill, hyper-partisan pundit. He cares nothing about truth, and everything about promoting the interests of the Democratic Party. He uses his columns not to inform his readers, but to mislead them. It is hard to think of a worse indictment of a columnist.