ASA Speaks Out on Trump’s Tweet Ahead of Monthly BLS Jobs Report

American Statistical Association President Lisa LaVange and Executive Director Ron Wasserstein, in a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, expressed their alarm with President Trump’s June 1 tweet hinting at good news in the monthly employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They stated the tweet—which read, “Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.”—is a breach of trust and a disservice to our nation, adding “[A]dvance indications about such data can create artificial market disruptions.” They emphasized the responsibility strongly felt in the statistical community to protect the integrity of government statistics, citing long-standing protocols and the White House Office of Management and Budget statistical directives guiding the proper handling of government statistics.

The primary OMB directive is Directive No. 4: Release and Dissemination of Statistical Products Produced by Federal Statistical Agencies, issued in 2008 to “further support the quality and integrity of federal statistical information.” Indeed, the summary information states, the “procedures in the directive are intended to ensure that statistical data releases adhere to data quality standards through equitable, policy-neutral, and timely release of information to the general public.”

While there were numerous news accounts of Trump’s tweet, the LaVange/Wasserstein letter specifically reacted to this Washington Post article. Through its  Count on Stats campaign, the ASA also issued a statement with a related message about the “disregard for the long-standing protocols protecting the nation’s sensitive data.”