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Are U.S. economic statistics trustworthy?

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Date: Friday, 05 January 2024

Are U.S. economic statistics trustworthy?

Eric Zuesse (blogs at

According to the official statistics, U.S. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in current prices has been steadily increasing from $20,000 in 1987 to $80,412 in 2023, and it was $76,343 in 2022, so increased 5.4% during 2023.

According to the official statistics, the inflation-rate in 2023 was 3.1%. On 12 October 2023, the U.S. Government headlined “Social Security Announces 3.2 Percent Benefit Increase for 2024”. So: according to the official statistics, America’s S.S. retirees this year will be receiving 3.2 percent more than in 2023, which matches the official 3.1% inflation-rate — and, so, these retirees won’t be experiencing a decline in living-standards.

However, on 18 December 2023, the Monmouth University poll headlined “Biden gets especially poor marks on inflation and immigration; few Americans say he is paying enough attention to their concerns”, and reported that the “President Biden Job Rating” in December 2023 was 34% Approve and 61% disapprove, and the “Biden Policy Ratings” showed that the biggest “Disapprove” and smallest “Approve” ratings were for Immigration, on which the Disapprove was 69%, and were for Inflation, on which the Disapprove was 68%. Monmouth’s article explained it this way:

‘The Biden administration keeps touting their infrastructure investments and a host of positive economic indicators. Those data points may be factual, but most Americans are still smarting from higher prices caused by post-pandemic inflation. This seems to be what’s driving public opinion. There is political danger in pushing a message that basically tells people their take on their own situation is wrong,’ said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Currently, 44% of Americans say they are struggling to remain where they are financially. Another 43% report being basically stable, while only 12% say their financial situation is improving. In the three years prior to the pandemic, the number of Americans who were struggling ranged between 20% and 29% while those who reported having improved finances ranged between 20% and 25%. When the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020, the number who said their finances were improving dropped to 11% but those who were struggling were 26%, which was about on par with prior polling. This latter number remained basically steady throughout the pandemic and stood at 24% in June 2021, just a few months into the start of the current inflationary cycle. The number of Americans who said they were struggling increased to 42% as inflation peaked at about 9% in June 2022, but then went down to 37% in October 2022 as the rate of inflation started to ease. However, even though the inflation rate has continued to decline, the number of Americans who reported struggling started to increase again, hitting 41% in March of this year before registering 44% in the current poll.

Just 31% of the American public says Biden has been giving enough attention to the issues that are most important to their families. The vast majority (65%) wish he would give more attention to those issues. Just 11% of Republicans and 25% of independents say Biden is paying enough attention to their top concerns. Although a majority of Democrats (58%) feel he is paying the right amount of attention to their top issues, a sizable minority (41%) wish he would focus more on those concerns. 

Everywhere that I travel in the United States I see fewer well-maintained buildings than before, and more dilapidated and apparently abandoned ones than before. It looks like a country that’s in economic decline, with more and more deteriorating and boarded-up buildings and empty storefronts each and every year.

According to the official statistics, the U.S. “national rental vacancy rate has declined 40.5% since 2009, when vacancy hit an all-time high (11.1%).” So, at its peak in 2009 right after the 2008 real-estate crash, it was 11.1%, but now is 6.6%. However:


“What Is the Actual Housing Vacancy Rate?”

by Wolf Richter, 2 February 2023

On page 4, we see that in Q4, 2022:

Total number of housing units: 143.95 million.

Year-over-year increase in housing units: +1.34 million

Total number of vacant housing units: 14.55 million.

Total vacancy rate: 10.1% (14.55 million divided by 143.95 million).


So: the nominal 6.6% vacancy-rate is an actual 10.1% vacancy-rate. (Mr. Richter’s very informative article explains how the U.S. Government does this.)





28 March 2023, United Way

Sixteen million homes currently sit vacant across the U.S. In every state across the country, many homes remain empty while hundreds of thousands of Americans face homelessness. Vacant homes and buildings often succumb to the elements and deteriorate due to leaks, damage and general lack of maintenance, before ever finding a buyer. … There are currently 28 vacant homes for every one person experiencing homelessness in the U.S.


And America’s rental vacancies are generally concentrated in its cities; and those urban vacant rental properties are approximately twice as likely to remain vacant for over a year than are ones outside the cities; so, in America, vacant rental spaces and their associated economic decline are overwhelmingly an urban problem, far less of a problem in suburban and rural areas (where most of the vacant buildings aren’t rentals but simply investor-owned). 

One sees these realities when traveling around the country. America’s cities are visibly in decline. Perhaps the reason why the official statistics are so strikingly at odds with what the American people see is that the U.S. Government’s economic numbers cannot be trusted.

Therefore, perhaps a good question for pollsters to start asking would be “Do you trust the U.S. Government’s official published numbers on the nation’s economy much, or somewhat, or little, or not at all?” Because, there is an anomaly, which needs to be explained: Why are the U.S. Government’s economic statistics showing a successful economy while the American public’s opinions are reporting quite the opposite? 


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s new book, AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change, is about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.

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