Issa sees 'legitimate questions' about jobs report, but has no plans for hearing

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee thinks there are “legitimate questions” about federal unemployment figures but has no plans to hold a hearing about them, a spokesman said Thursday. 

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) caused a stir in an interview aired Thursday in which he seemed to open the door to a congressional investigation into the September jobs report, which pegged the jobless rate below 8 percent for the first time in President Obama’s White House tenure.

But a spokesman for Issa said the chairman has not yet decided to investigate the figures.

"While Chairman Issa, in response to a question asked yesterday, did state that he believes there are legitimate questions about the Department of Labor’s method for calculating unemployment, the Oversight Committee has not announced or decided to hold hearings on the September unemployment report," spokesman Frederick Hill said in a statement.

The controversy over the jobs report exploded on Friday after former General Electric CEO Jack Welsh called the report of 7.8 percent unemployment “unbelievable” and questioned whether “Chicago guys” were cooking the books.

Issa was asked about the controversy in an interview with Fox Business Network, and said his panel — which has subpoena power — has jurisdiction over the stat-collecting by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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"We very much intend to work every day through the November and December time to get these kinds of things done — we're hoping that's a good nonpartisan time — and this is an issue where I think our committee has important jurisdiction to make sure we get it right."

Issa said the routine revisions that officials make to the jobs figures in the months after they are released suggest there’s room for improvement. 

"The way it's being done with the constant revisions — significant revisions — tells us that it's not as exact a science as it needs to be," Issa said.

In his statement, Hill stressed that Issa did not bring up a congressional hearing during the Fox interview.

"Chairman Issa specifically pointed to the frequent revisions that the Department of Labor often makes to its own numbers in questioning whether more can be done to ensure that they accurately reflect the state of our nation’s job market,” Hill said. 

“At no point did he say he has made plans to convene a hearing on this subject."