Congress may soon investigate a media report claiming the Labor Department falsified the nation's jobless numbers a month before the 2012 election.
A Republican aide told the Washington Examiner the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is digging into the claim, published in the New York Post on Tuesday.
"The allegation that data gathered by the Census Bureau is being manipulated for any reason is extremely serious," the GOP aide told the Examiner. "The Oversight Committee has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau and will be thoroughly investigating these claims."
The Census Bureau is part of the Commerce, but in 2009 the Obama administration altered the chain of command so that the Census Bureau director now reports to the White House as well as the department secretary. Republicans protested the change, saying that it undercuts the independence and trustworthiness of the Census.
The Post reports that an employee at the Census Bureau, Julius Buckmon, fabricated data for the monthly employment report because he could not reach people to complete the survey.
Buckmon, the Post reported, was "not the only one" faking the data.
The Census worker did not cite a political motive, telling the Post he simply needed to fill in the missing information.
Buckmon, according to the Post, is one of the top producers of data for the monthly jobless report, conducting three times as many household interviews as his colleagues.
The Post said Buckmon faked the survey results for the September 2012 jobs report, which was released on October 5, 2012 — a month before the presidential election — and showed a sharp drop from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent even though only 114,000 jobs were added in September.
Obama touted the shrinking jobless numbers in campaign stump speeches, citing it as a reason voters should give him a second term.
Skeptics questioned the jobs numbers at the time. Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric, sent out a Tweet the day the report was released, calling the numbers "unbelievable," and suggesting the Obama administration had manipulated them. He received much criticism for the Tweet and had to walk it back.