It seems that I’m not alone either, having been dealing with this very problem with increasing frequency over the past several years. Speaking now as an analyst, it is simply getting harder and harder to actually make sense of and use official data sources…most suffering from various inconsistencies, non-sensical revisions, or lacking required revisions. Problems have been noted with population, housing, employment, unemployment, building permits, and other data, such as the NAR’s housing stats.
Are they being manipulated? Well, if it walks like a duck….In the meantime, we might recall the old programmer’s rule – GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). I contend that we’re clearly suffering an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the sheer quantity of ever-poorer tools available to help us solve our growing problems.
Biederman’s referenced article here.