"They want what every first-term administration wants: a second term."
--Robert Ritter (Clear and Present Danger)
The October 2012 jobs report featured a much larger decline in unemployment than expected. This 'surprise' was convenient for the Obama administration, seeing as this report may have been the most important data release leading up to November's presidential election.
More than a few people raised eyebrows. The report motivated analysis of job trends and costs on these pages.
Reports are surfacing that the jobs data were being manipulated during Obama's first term and that the manipulation escalated in the months prior to the 2012 election.
For a first term administration that wants a second term, then the downside to fudging economic data is small. Unless you get caught in the act just prior to the election when votes are most prone to influence, you're likely to calculate that you can deflect the problem if it ever arises. If the news breaks one year after the election, then no big deal. The election has already been decided. Press the blame to down to obscure, low level bureaucrats and move on.
As long as government is permitted to produce or distribute information, manipulation should be expected.