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Type of site
Analyses Government Economic & Unemployment Statistics
Headquarters USA
Owner Walter John Williams
Current status Online is a website that analyzes and makes independent estimates of "real" unemployment statistics, using data such as the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 unemployment rates that have been de-emphasised by traditional media outlets.

The site is authored by consulting economist Walter J. Williams, who holds a BA in Economics and an MBA from Dartmouth College.[1] He is popularly known as "John Williams."[1][2]


Regarding inflation statistics, Williams says that some of the biggest changes to the Consumer Price Index were made between 1997-1999 in an effort to reduce Social Security outlays, using controversial changes by Alan Greenspan that include "hedonic regression", or the increased quality of goods.[3] Some other investors have echoed Williams' views, most prominently Bill Gross, who reportedly called the US CPI an "haute con job".[3] John S. Greenlees and Robert B. McClelland, staff economists at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, wrote a paper to address CPI "misconceptions", such as those of Williams.[4]

Regarding unemployment statistics, Williams points out that under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the U-3 unemployment rate series was created, which excludes people who stopped looking for work for more than a year ago as well as part-time workers who are seeking full-time employment. Although the old unemployment rate series', which include part-time workers looking for full-time work and unemployed who stopped looking over a year ago, is still published monthly by BLS, the U-3 series is generally considered more meaningful and is the headline rate picked up by most media outlets.[5] Williams calculates the U-6 rate as it was calculated until December 1993.

Regarding growth statistics, Williams reports that the official numbers for U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and jobs growth range from "deceptive"[6] to "rigged" and "manipulated".

On July 24, 2008, Williams testified before the United States House Committee on Financial Services on the "Implications of a Weaker Dollar for Oil Prices and the U.S. Economy."[7]


Republican politician and former United States Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao has supported the idea that the headline unemployment rate has been low due to low labor force participation rates.[8] In 2012, Chao stated that the real unemployment rate was nearly 16 percent, referring to the U-6 unemployment measure published by BLS.[8] Economist and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy Paul Craig Roberts who served during the Reagan Administration has cited John Williams' estimates in a review of real unemployment rates in 2013.[9] Williams' work has also been cited by author Wayne Allyn Root.[10] Williams has been featured on Fox Business Network and his work has been cited by CNBC.[11][12]


A number of economists and finance experts have claimed that Shadowstats CPI is conceptually wrong and that their usage leads to easily disproven absurd conclusions.[4][13][14][15]

University of Maryland Professor Katharine Abraham, who previously headed the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency responsible for publishing official unemployment and inflation data, says of Williams' claims about data manipulation that "[t]he culture of the Bureau of Labor Statistics is so strong that it's not going to happen." Steve Landefeld, former director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Commerce Department agency that prepares quarterly GDP reports, said in response to an article about Williams, "the bureau rigorously follows guidelines designed to ensure its work remains totally transparent and absolutely unbiased." In the same article, UC San Diego economist Valerie Ramey, a member of the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee, defended the methodological changes, claiming they were only made "after academic economists did decades of research and said they should be done."[2]


  1. ^ a b Shadowstats main page: "Walter J. "John" Williams was born in 1949. He received an A.B. in Economics, cum laude, from Dartmouth College in 1971, and was awarded a M.B.A. from Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration in 1972[...]. During his career as a consulting economist...
  2. ^ a b Zuckerman, Sam (25 May 2008). "Economist challenges government data". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  3. ^ a b "Indeed, over the past few years, some of Mr Williams's views on economic indicators - the consumer price index, in particular - have been echoed by better-known and leading investment community figures, such as the bond investor Bill Gross, the strategist Stephen Roach and James Grant."
    Sikols, Richard (2008-09-20). "Forget short-sellers, Pollyanna creep could be the culprit". The Times Online. The Times. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  4. ^ a b John S. Greenlees and Robert B. McClelland: Addressing misconceptions about the Consumer Price Index, Monthly Labor Review, August 2008
  5. ^ Alternative measures of labor underutilization, BLS.
  6. ^ Forsyth, Randall W. (2009-10-30). ""Risk Trade" Returns, at Least for a Day". Barron's. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  7. ^ House Financial Services Hearing.
  8. ^ a b Martin Gould and Kathleen Walter (February 3, 2012).Elaine Chao: Real Unemployment Numbers Are Double. Newsmax.
  9. ^ Paul Craig Roberts (December 11, 2013).More Misleading Official Employment Statistics . Foreign Policy Journal.
  10. ^ Wayne Allyn Root (2014). The Murder of the Middle Class. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 978-1621572213. 
  11. ^ The Real Unemployment Numbers. Fox Business Network, July 23, 2012.
  12. ^ John Melloy (April 12, 2011). Inflation Actually Near 10% Using Older Measure. CNBC.
  13. ^ Why Shadow Government Statistics is very, very, very wrong, Michael Sankowski, The Traders Crucible, February 1, 2011.
  14. ^ Niall Ferguson Has Not Admitted He Was Wrong About Inflation, Adam Ozimek, Forbes, October 10, 2013
  15. ^ The Absurdity of ShadowStats Inflation Estimates, David Clayton, May 15, 2011.

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