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Feds remind states about unemployment gag order

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020

* Greg Hinz

Under what amounts to a gag order from Washington, state officials have abruptly stopped releasing daily figures on how many Illinois workers are filing for unemployment insurance amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

Instead, as per orders, they’ll give the totals as part of a single national release only weekly on Thursdays, a step some data-security hawks may like but that also arguably makes it easier for President Donald Trump to continue to assert that he has the epidemic under control.

Through last Thursday, March 19, the Illinois Department of Employment Security was releasing the figures day to day upon media request, with the numbers soaring to a total of 64,000 over a three-day period ending then, nearly 10 times the level from the same period a year earlier. […]

Continues [federal] Statistical Policy Directive No. 4, “Employees having sworn to observe the limitations imposed on the dissemination of information face a class E felony charge and imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or a fine of not more than $250,000.00, or both, if the information is willfully disseminated in violation of the limitations.”

That federal directive was issued in 2008. More here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments »
  1. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:27 am:

    Data makes the administration look bad so we have to hide the data? This is like something totalitarian governments do? How long will his apologists twist themselves into logical pretzels to defend this President?

    Now I’ll go refill my coffee and watch otherwise mostly sane people defend this.


  2. - efudd - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:34 am:

    “apologists twist themselves”

    The man said it himself-
    I could shoot someone in the middle of a busy street and get away with it.


  3. - Bruce (no not him) - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:36 am:

    Wow, just wow.
    As if ignorance is a good thing. What we don’t know, won’t hurt us??


  4. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:38 am:

    I believe information should be out there but obviously Trump did not initiate this it was made available in 2008
    This is why we should be careful we are making precedents that may or may not be abused in future. This is why Pritzker was right not to move elections.


  5. - All This - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:39 am:

    When will that First Amdt Lawyer dude chime in here?


  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:41 am:

    === When will that First Amdt Lawyer dude chime in here?===

    Busy talking to Liberty University about their move to stay open?


  7. - Cubs in '16 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:45 am:

    I’m by no means a Trump apologist but could this move also be a way to try and stem the stock market free fall?


  8. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:46 am:

    To the Post,

    The 2008 precedent being cited and used, ok, they wanna do that, fine

    The issue now is the dishonesty the administration will say at podiums on the White House grounds and in the rooms that trouble me most, even in this instance where medical professionals will rebuke this White House after it decides to say something not remotely accurate.

    It’s not great withholding these numbers, to say the least or even at minimum. Leadership you can’t trust and now health is a factor to the honesty, I’m not surprised they want these numbers held, they only need to fib once a week as opposed to each instance the state’s report.


  9. - Makes Sense - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 9:57 am:

    It’s more about the potential for insider trading than the illusion of Trump control. #TDS


  10. - SSL - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:04 am:

    These numbers will be the worst ever experienced. It’s not surprising given we’ve never seen an economy shut down so quickly. These numbers will be the benchmark going forward, and if something worse comes along, I don’t want to see it.

    Doesn’t matter to me if I see them daily or weekly. The numbers are brutally awful.


  11. - A Jack - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:05 am:

    Seriously though, daily unemployment number releases only give entities like the Tribune editorial board and the IPI reasons to run around saying the sky is falling. Longer tern the unemployment numbers will smooth out. The numbers still won’t be good, but better for Illinois and Pritzker than sensational headlines.


  12. - lakeside - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:05 am:

    ==Data makes the administration look bad so we have to hide the data?==

    Dear Leader must never look bad.

    Or else he won’t help us stay alive.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:09 am:

    === Tribune editorial board and the IPI reasons to run around saying the sky is falling.===

    It may calm that narrative, but that horse left the barn and folks are telling people who will listen it’s fine to have a pandemic rolling but we needed our economy to be rolling too…

    Of course that rings of a cult like sounding rationale, people can die but unemployment needs to go down, but it takes 3/10th of a second on the google, it’s already being pushed, sadly.


  14. - Sayitaintso - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:11 am:

    I didn’t read the last sentence - directive issued in 2008. I’ll amend my point only to say it was a faulty directive 12 years ago.


  15. - TheInvisibleMan - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:17 am:

    This is the same mindset that is preventing some counties from releasing names of towns with infections.

    For example, the director of the Will county health department is connected with a local chamber of commerce. It does seem concerns some towns have with looking bad is driving the data more than the contents of the data.

    Data about infections could make a place look bad, after all.

    And once again, a few stories were run yesterday about specific towns in Dupage county that had new infections. Most recently, listing the town and specific apartment complex with an infection.

    data is agnostic. Your attempts to hide it will give away far more than the data ever will.


  16. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:20 am:

    We could see unemployment rise to 30% int he next six months. This order is the equivalent of reporting rain totals only once per week. We all can see that it’s raining whether it gets reported or not. This doesn’t stop the unemployment, and we all have friends and neighbors we know are losing their jobs.

    FTR, I am not blaming the administration for the skyrocketing unemployment numbers (or rain). This order was created under President Bush right after the global financial collapse. I get the history, but the idea that Trump can’t bear to read bad news, so we have to hide it is classic Trump.


  17. - Pundent - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:30 am:

    =I’m by no means a Trump apologist but could this move also be a way to try and stem the stock market free fall?=

    Little chance of that. Absent real data the markets will assume the worst. Unlike the President they don’t operate under the premise that if we don’t hear about it then it’s not happening.


  18. - Arnold - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:32 am:

    None of this is justifiable in the adult world. Adults are capable of dealing with real life in all it’s complexity. Adults are going to have to deal with the reality that hundreds of thousands of people will be out of their previous job and looking to find a new, or rejoin their old, job. Attempting to hide this reality is what children do. The President behaves and views the world as a child does. It’s pathetic.


  19. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 10:54 am:

    Very sad. All we can think of now is our puny selves and not the fragile ego of our leader. Why can’t we be magnanimous like him, when he trashed Sen. Romney this morning and mocked his negative test result for coronavirus?


  20. - Streamwood Retiree - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 11:11 am:

    How is this remotely legal?
    The federal government can classify it’s own data, but not the states’ independent data. It’s a massive federal incursion in state’s rights.


  21. - Huh? - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 11:18 am:

    “Employees having sworn to observe the limitations imposed on the dissemination of information face a class E felony charge and imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or a fine of not more than $250,000.00, or both, if the information is willfully disseminated in violation of the limitations.”

    This language is not “Statistical Policy Directive No. 4. Here is a link to the Federal Register listing of this directive.

    https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/10/17/2016-25049/statistical-policy-directive-no-4-addendum-release-and-dissemination-of-statistical-products

    Furthermore, I think that the directive applies to the Federal government and not to the States. Nothing in the order seems to extend beyond the Federal government.

    And then there is this line from the directive “… data must be collected and distributed free of any perceived or actual partisan intervention. …”


  22. - JIbba - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 11:50 am:

    ” try and stem the stock market free fall”

    The worst reason to hide truth I have ever heard.


  23. - truthteller - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 12:24 pm:

    putin’s efforts paying off in his education of trump on how to control the narrative. First you hide the facts


  24. - Fly like an eagle - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 12:31 pm:

    - - It’s more about the potential for insider trading than the illusion of Trump control.- -
    How on God’s earth does that make sense? Insider trading is with information that only “insiders” know. Something made public would be by definition “not insider trading.”


  25. - Nobody - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 2:09 pm:

    If you make the numbers a national weekly event, doesn’t that make it even more of stock market driver?


  26. - Generic Drone - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 2:15 pm:

    The last thing I will believe is any figures coming from the Trump Administration.


  27. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 2:21 pm:

    ===Insider trading is with information that only “insiders” know===

    What is being suggested is that certain people will have access to the data prior to its weekly public release, and those people could make investment decisions or share the info with another party for personal gain.


  28. - Fly like an eagle - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:33 pm:

    - - What is being suggested is that certain people will have access to the data prior to its weekly public release, and those people could make investment decisions or share the info with another party for personal gain - -
    “Certain people?” Some people, such as those who work for the IDES, already know the numbers. This federal gag order isn’t about keeping the numbers from people who already know the numbers. It’s about publishing the numbers. Keeping the public from knowing about the numbers.


  29. - LeadingInDecatut - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 6:44 pm:

    New rules:

    Thursday: horrible numbers
    Friday - Wednesday: Trump says economy stronger than anyone thought possible.


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