Former Professor’s book challenges government statistics


By Wilson Criscione


As the economy struggles to lift itself out of a recession, former EWU government professor Keith Quincy hopes to enlighten the public with statistics he says the government does not want you to see — and they are worse than most people think.

Quincy held a reading of his book, “Worse Than You Think: The Real Economy Hidden Beneath Washington’s Rigged Statistics, and Where We Go From Here” at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane on Jan. 26. Quincy’s book relies on statistics from a private research company called American Business Analytics and Research to paint a grim picture of the current economy and how it has evolved.

“The book I’ve written here rests on many years of research,” Quincy said.

During the reading, Quincy argued that the Reagan administration, and later the Clinton administration, began rigging economic statistics such as inflation rate, GDP growth and unemployment percentages to make the economy look stronger than it actually was.

“It created economic growth when it did not exist,” Quincy said.

While poring over GDP statistics, Quincy noticed a footnote stating that the number given was not strictly comparable for prior years, and then he noticed the same footnote in inflation and unemployment statistics. This led Quincy to seek the aforementioned private research company, which puts out a statistical report named “Shadow Government Statistics.” According to the website, government reporting of statistics has deteriorated significantly over recent decades.

Despite recent reports of GDP growth, Quincy says that the GDP has actually shrunk by an average of 2.8 percent in President Barack Obama’s administration. He also claims the unemployment rate is around 23 percent, which is close to the percentage during the Great Depression.

And Quincy’s claims are even more ominous for college students.

“They should know that unless we reverse course, they will be the first generation in American history that will fail to match the income of their parents,” Quincy said.

David Bunting, chair of the economics department at EWU, is more hesitant to strike fear into college graduates. While it will be a slow process, Bunting says it usually takes eight to nine years to get out of a recession.

He said researching employment prospects for a particular major is vital. Additionally, actually finishing education and earning a degree is of great importance.

“None of the benefits of a college education accrue to people who don’t graduate,” Bunting said.

This advice is echoed by former EWU professor Grant Forsyth, who is now chief economist for Avista. Forsyth would like to see more instruction for students starting in high school, where they would be advised about economic patterns and the job market.

“Both schools and students have to be more proactive and smarter about how they look for work,” Forsyth said.

Graduates must also be mobile, according to Forsyth, as job markets are not deep enough to allow students to stay in one place.

This advice can be considered whether or not Quincy is right that the government has fabricated certain statistics.

Bunting, while not actually reading his former-colleague’s book yet, stressed that looking at economic statistics is a favorite game for many people, and that they can be interpreted in many different ways.

“What I tell students is simply choose your major carefully,” Bunting said.