Jobs Report: Truth Behind the Numbers

Jonathan Karl looks into what the new jobs numbers really mean.
3:00 | 10/05/12

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Transcript for Jobs Report: Truth Behind the Numbers
being asked, we decided to track down some answers. Abc's jonathan karl spent the day looking into these new numbers and what they really mean. Reporter: As soon as the new 7.8% unemployment rate was announced, rush limbaugh and other conservatives said the white house has cooked the books. Even jack welch, the former ceo of ge went on twitter to accuse the president of changing the numbers. I tell you, these numbers don't smell right when you think about where the economy is right now. Reporter: The labor department called the allegations ludicrous. We went directly to the place where it's all done. This vast government building, a couple of miles from the white house, houses the labor department's bureau of labor stay twist icks. The bls has been tabulating the rate for more than 70 years. All based on a survey conducted in person and over the phone of 60,000 households every month. And here is where the numbers get crunched. Amid a sea of cubicles, inside of each one, an economist sworn to secrecy and working on a specific aspect of that employment survey. Tom is in charge here. He's worked at bls since before ronald reagan was president. He introduced us to the economist who actually wrote this morning's unemployment rate announcement. How much of a secret is that number before you put it out? You can't call me up and tell me -- I can't tell anyone. It's a complete secret. Reporter: Before the release, they are literally sworn to secrecy. The white house doesn't see their work until it's done. And tom keeps the report in a safe in his office. You've been working here more than 20 years. Have you ever had a situation, or heard of a situation, where somebody at the white house calls, says, hey, can you move the number a little bit? Absolutely not, has never happened. Reporter: Could it happen? A lot of people would be leaving this building if it did. It would not happen. Reporter: Today, the american enterprise institute, a prominent conservative think tank here in washington dismissed suggestions that the white house interfered with the unemployment number, saying talk like that, quote, should be confined to crazy town.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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