The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly jobs report early May 7 announcing a rise in unemployment to 9.9 percent and an increase of 290,000 jobs.
Any positive job growth is good news to be sure. But in order for Obama to meet his pledge of 4 million jobs created by the end of 2010, the U.S. economy would have to add 932,000 jobs each and every month between now and the end of the year, taking into account both temporary jobs and the number of new positions needed to keep even with population growth. According to the BLS, 2,662,000 jobs have been lost since February 2009.
The Associated Press reacted immediately to the May 7 jobs announcement by emphasizing the good news in its subhead and lead sentence: "Jobs grow by most in 4 years." They described people streaming "back into the market looking for work."
AP waited until the eighth paragraph to mention that "all told, 15.3 million people were out of work in April."
The New York Times also highlighted the "unexpected strong" job growth, but admitted "the job market still has a long way to go before it can be counted on to provide a base for a sustained economic recovery." Both stories did mention that 66,000 jobs out of the total were temporary jobs related to the U.S. Census.
CNN's Kyra Phillips attempted to explain the unemployment numbers May 7 saying more Americans are "optimistic" and began looking for work.
Neither AP, nor the Times mentioned Obama in its stories. Phillips only mentioned that Obama would be making a statement later in the day. None of them reminded their audience that the Obama administration promised to create 4.1 million jobs by the end of 2010, according to a Jan. 2009 AP story on MSNBC.com.
Economists often say that the U.S. needs to create 150,000 jobs per month just to break even. One study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta put the actual minimum slightly lower than 100,000 jobs per month. Using that calculation, and subtracting the temporary census workers hired in April, the rate of job creation falls considerably.
290,000 jobs added in April
-66,000 temporary Census workers
-100,000 minimum needed every month
124,000 additional jobs created in April
At that rate it would take just over 21 months just to gain back the 2,662,000 jobs lost under President Obama (Feb. 2009 through April 2010). To fulfill his promise of 4 million jobs created by the end of 2010, the U.S. economy would need to gain 932,750 jobs per month between now and the end of the year.
The Times quoted Peter Cardillo, who predicted "jobs growth in the vicinity of 150,000 to 175,000 per month going forward." Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners said, "That means the unemployment rate is going to stay on high level ground for a while." If Cardillo was correct, that sort of growth would barely keep up with rising population.
Under the Bush administration even good news about jobs was spun negatively by the mainstream media. But since Obama took office, many news stories have given him a pass on the employment issue despite his grandiose promises to create millions of jobs.
The Business & Media Institute found that network news reports were extremely negative during President Reagan's administration, when unemployment was often at the same rate as it was in 2009 during Obama's first year. The networks found "good" news for Obama; however, focusing stories on as few as 25 jobs "saved" by the stimulus package.
Image via risingunemployment.com.