Unemployment 101: Professor Christie

Photograph by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

Shoppers crowd a store at the Premium Outlet Mall in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.

Here’s a nightmare moment for every statehouse reporter with a college education heavy on liberal arts and light on statistics.

“Explain the unemployment rate to me,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose bombastic demeanor tends to elicit rapid compliance, said today at a news conference when the state’s 9.6 percent jobless rate came up.

No volunteers.

New Jersey added 30,900 private-sector jobs in December, according to data released by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Christie called it “the greatest private-sector job-growth month since we’ve been keeping statistics,” starting n 1990.

The jobless rate responded — with a drop of just one-tenth of 1 percent.

“I told you guys this before: I have no idea what the unemployment rate means and I suspect the people who do it have no idea what the unemployment rate means,” Christie said. “The unemployment rate is based on a poll. So I don’t know what to make of it. All I could tell you is this: 30,000 jobs in one month? Pretty good month. Historic month. What it tells you is that New Jersey is doing quite well.”

End of lesson.


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