AP Badly Misquotes Labor Dept. on 'Discouraged Workers'

For years, NewsBusters and the Business & Media Institute have regularly complained about the abysmal financial coverage offered by the mainstream press while accusing media of consistently painting a negative -- and oftentimes fallacious! -- picture of the economy.On Friday, a perfect example of such was illustrated by the Associated Press whose article about the February unemployment data just released by the Labor Department grossly misrepresented what was announced.In fact, the AP's Jeannine Aversa actually fabricated data that went completely contrary to what was reported. Take a close look at paragraph two of Aversa's article published at Yahoo at 9:39AM (emphasis added):

The Labor Department's report, released Friday, also showed that the nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people -- perhaps discouraged by their prospects -- left the civilian labor force.

Um, NO! Here's what the Labor Department specifically said about this issue in its Employment Situation Summary released at 8:30AM (emphasis added):

Persons Not in the Labor Force (Household Survey Data) About 1.6 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attachedto the labor force in February. These individuals wanted and were available forwork and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were notcounted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 396,000 discouraged workers in February, about the same as a year earlier. Discouraged workers were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them. The other 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in February had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-13.)

See that phrase "about the same as a year earlier?" See anything about the number of discouraged workers increasing in February? Where did Aversa find such a claim by the Labor Department? It certainly couldn't have been in Table A-13 "Persons not in the labor force and multiple jobholders by sex, not seasonally adjusted," which showed that folks out of the workforce due to discouragement actually declined by 71,000 in February!That's right, folks: the number of people not in the workforce due to discouragement over job prospects, according to the Labor Department, declined from 467,000 in January to 396,000 in February. Let's look at that second AP paragraph again, shall we:

The Labor Department's report, released Friday, also showed that the nation's unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people -- perhaps discouraged by their prospects -- left the civilian labor force.

Where'd you get this, Jeannine?Honestly, such negligence from most employees in the nation wouldn't be tolerated by their employer. Sadly, those of us that analyze economic reporting see this kind of nonsense from the mainstream media fairly regularly.Nice job, AP!Related post by Tom Blumer here.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.