Sorry Media: Job Gains in August, Not Losses

I wonder how the media will pretend this is bad news? The latest employment numbers are in and not only are they solid, but last month wasn't the catastrophe first reported. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 110,000 jobs were created in September and 89,000 were created in August. The August number replaces the 4,000 jobs lost that were first reported. If you flash back to last month, you'll remember how much the media screamed about this. ABC was declaring the August numbers a sign of "new fears this morning about the state of our economy," said Bill Weir on September 8. That's how he lead off a downbeat "Good Morning America" story entitled "Road to Recession? Bleak Signals from Job Report." It only got worse. "And now many are asking whether the disappointing employment figures, coupled with the housing crisis, may head us, have us headed for a serious economic downturn or even recession," worried Weir. But the October 5 "American Morning" explained sets it all straight. Business reporter Ali Velshi called it "A big sigh of relief." Not only were the new numbers better than the 100,000 expected, but the previous numbers were revised. The other key point is, remember last month, John, we talked about a 4,000 job loss when we were expecting a hundred thousand jobs to be created. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has now amended that. That is a common thing for them to do. They are now saying that 89,000 jobs were actually created in August. Not 4,000 jobs lost."Velshi summed it up well: "So if you look at today's news it means that not only are things more positive in September, they were actually not as bad as we thought they were in August."The networks have a bad history of distorting economic coverage of employment. Prior to the August numbers, in 47 straight months of job growth, the U.S. economy had created 8.3 million jobs. But despite that economic achievement, the media have consistently presented employment news and the overall economy negatively in the past four years.In a January 2006 study, The Business & Media Institute found ABC, CBS and NBC focused more on job losses in 2005, even though 2 million new jobs were added. The networks focused on job losses in slightly more than half the reports (76 out of 151). Just 35 percent of the stories addressed job gains (53 out of 151).

Dan Gainor
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and Vice President for Business and Culture for the Media Research Center