White House Welcomes Strong Employment Data in Potentially Violating Tweets

© Reuters. Spicer holds daily press conference at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A series of tweets on Friday by White House spokesman Sean Spicer, commenting on the strong job creation figures for February, may have conflicted with federal guidelines that ban most of officials comment on key economic data an hour after it was released.

The rule, Statistical Policy Directive Number 3, is intended to “preserve the distinction between the publication of policy-neutral data by statistical agencies and its interpretation by policy officials,” explained the office of White House budget when it released the most recent version in September. 1985.

Jason Furman, who chaired President Barack Obama‘s Council of Economic Advisers, noted on Twitter that the rule had been in place for decades: “Everyone has followed it. Until now.”

When asked about the tweets at a White House press conference, Spicer said the posts simply repeated public information and did not provide any analysis that could have disrupted the markets.

“We are excited to see so many Americans return to work,” he said. “So, I apologize if we were a little excited.”

Erica Groshen, who headed the statistical arm of the Labor Department for four years under Obama, in her own comment on Twitter called the directive a “best practice” that separates nonpartisan numbers analysts from officials with a more political bent. .

In its monthly report on U.S. employment, released at 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT), the Labor Department said nonfarm employers added 235,000 workers to their payrolls, and the unemployment rate fell one tenth. percentage point to 4.7 percent.

Monthly employment data sets the tone for financial markets around the world, and the strong pace of job growth in February was seen as giving the Federal Reserve the green light to raise interest rates next week.

Twenty-four minutes after the data was released, Spicer tweeted: “Good news for American workers: Economy added 235,000 new jobs, unemployment rate drops to 4.7% in first @POTUS Trump report.”

Minutes later, he offered a new post: “It is not a bad way to start the 50th day of this Administration.”

Spicer was not alone.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, in his own tweet at 9:02 am (1402 GMT), appeared to cede the credit for job growth to President Donald Trump: “@POTUS Trump meets first # JobsReport. 235,000 new jobs and unemployment rate up 4.7%. Good news for American workers! “

Vice President Mike Pence also got involved.

Trump, who is not shy when it comes to using Twitter, had paved the way, retweeting a post from the Drudge Report that simply said, “GREAT AGAIN: +235,000.”

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