Media Thrilled Over 8.3% Unemployment in 2012, Despondent With 5.6% in 2004

If you needed more proof of liberal media bias, just look at the orgasms created by Friday's announcement that unemployment in January dropped to 8.3 percent.

By contrast, these same folks were practically suicidal as the jobless rate dropped to 5.6 percent when George W. Bush was President in January 2004.

Here's how the NBC Nightly News covered the January unemployment report on February 6, 2004:

BRIAN WILLIAMS, co-anchor: NBC News IN DEPTH tonight, more on that unemployment report out today. As we mentioned, the rate ticked down to a two-year low. But the number of jobs created, 112,000, was well below what analysts had expected. So what does all this tell us and where are these new jobs coming from? IN DEPTH tonight, here's NBC's Anne Thompson.

ANNE THOMPSON reporting: Union Pacific railroad, one of the engines of job creation in this country. It's looking to hire as many as 3500 new workers this year. There's been a surge in retirements and freight loads, its trains carrying more of everything from lumber to grain.

Mr. DICK DAVIDSON (Union Pacific Corporation CEO): We absolutely wouldn't be hiring these numbers of people if--if we didn't have some confidence that the economy was coming back.

THOMPSON: But that attitude remains the exception in corporate America and one reason why today's jobs report is considered disappointing. Yes, 112,000 jobs were created in January, but that's not enough, economists say, to keep pace with the recovery.

Dr. MARK ZANDI (Economy.com Chief Economist): Without more jobs, we're just not going to create enough income to ensure that consumers go out and continue to spend aggressively and allow this expansion to move forward.

THOMPSON: And for those who lose their jobs, finding the next one isn't easy. The average search time, according to the government, is now up to five months, the longest in 20 years.

Mr. ALEX HOOVER: Just let it flow nice and easy.

THOMPSON: After years of being self-employed, Alex Hoover has found a steady paycheck, training to be a Union Pacific brakeman and one day a conductor.

Mr. HOOVER: I'm looking for something a little more stable.

THOMPSON: CEO Dick Davidson says Hoover and others have found it.

Mr. DAVIDSON: These should be long-term jobs, hopefully where somebody will come and work 40 years and then retire.

THOMPSON: But they're still rare, economist Zandi says, because tax breaks entice companies to spend on equipment rather than employees.

Mr. ZANDI: We have to design policies that make it cheaper for businesses to go out and invest in people.

THOMPSON: That means tackling tough issues, finding creative ways to curb rising health care and pension costs...

Offscreen Voice: Help bring it to a stop.

THOMPSON: ...to end this unprecedented cycle of tepid job growth in an otherwise strong economy. Anne Thompson, NBC News, New York.

Not a very cheery report despite the unemployment rate dropping to 5.6 percent.


But NBC wasn't alone in spreading the gloom. The CBS Evening News was right there with them:

DAN RATHER, anchor: It is growing but the US economy isn't producing enough jobs, at least not yet. The government's official figures out today say unemployment in January was running 5.6 percent. While that is down a bit, the decline is largely the result of workers giving up on finding a job and no longer officially listed as unemployed. The economy created some new jobs in January, about 112,000, but economists say that is below predictions and expectations and not nearly enough to meet demand. CBS' Anthony Mason reports tonight on the job market.

ANTHONY MASON reporting: Intranets.com in Woburn, Massachusetts, is a small company, just 40 employees, but CEO Rick Faulk has big plans because he likes this economy.

Mr. RICK FAULK (CEO, Intranets.com): From our perspective, it's very strong.

MASON: Faulk says Intranets, which helps businesses manage their documents through the Web, plans to add 15 employees this year.

Mr. FAULK: We measure by Web site traffic, and our traffic is up dramatically. So we've got the confidence actually to go out and hire.

MASON: Greg Shenk just landed a marketing job with the company but after a painful job search.

Mr. GREG SHENK (Intranets.com): I was looking for work for about 15 months. So a long, long time.

MASON: Yes, unemployment dropped in January and payrolls grew at their fastest pace in more than three years. The problem is they're still not growing fast enough and some economists are now wondering whether all this hiring that was supposed to happen actually will.

That bears repeating: "Payrolls grew at their fastest pace in more than three years."

Yet the world according to CBS was practically coming to an end.


For its part, NPR was just as dour:

BOB EDWARDS, host: The government's latest unemployment report shows some improvement, but not as much as many had hoped. In January, businesses added just 112,000 new jobs. The overall size of the nation's work force held steady, and the unemployment rate fell slightly. NPR's Jack Speer is here. Good morning, Jack.

JACK SPEER reporting: Good morning, Bob.

EDWARDS: How should one regard the unemployment report from the government today?

SPEER: Well, Bob, I guess you can sort of look at this like a glass half-full or a glass half-empty. In other words, there's reason for both optimism and pessimism when you look at the January jobs report out this morning. On the one hand, we've got the payroll employment figures. They're showing fewer jobs last month than most economists agree are needed just to provide enough positions for all the new workers entering the labor force. And then you've got the other number, the survey the government does of households, and that shows the unemployment rate down a 10th of a percent to 5.6 percent, its lowest level in three years.

That bears repeating: "The unemployment rate down a 10th of a percent to 5.6 percent, its lowest level in three years."

Lowest in three years. But no orgasm like what we saw last Friday when the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in three years which was 2.7 percent higher than in February 2004.

Let's be clear here: There were 8.4 million Americans out of work in February 2004. Today that number is 12.8 million, a 52 percent increase, and our media on Friday celebrated like they had won the Super Bowl.


The newspapers eight years ago were just as gloomy. The New York Times participated in spreading the misery with a piece entitled "Job Growth Picks Up But Misses Forecast":

Job creation revived in January after an abrupt year-end slowdown, with employers adding 112,000 jobs last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday.

It was the job market's best performance since the economy started pulling out of recession in 2001. But the growth in employment was well under the 175,000 jobs expected by forecasters, and short of the 150,000 new jobs that economists consider necessary to absorb new entrants into the labor force.

So did the Washington Post:

The nation's unemployment rate fell slightly last month, and job growth picked up a bit, the Labor Department reported yesterday, indicating that the weak labor market is continuing its slow recovery.

The unemployment rate slipped in January to 5.6 percent, the lowest level in more than two years, and non-farm businesses added 112,000 jobs, on a seasonally adjusted basis, boosting their payrolls for the fifth consecutive month.

While the movement was in the right direction, the degree of improvement was disappointing to economists and others who keep waiting for what otherwise appears to be a strong economic expansion to fuel a takeoff in hiring. And the signals of progress appeared alongside signs of continuing stress, as the average length of unemployment grew and manufacturing businesses shed 11,000 jobs, for a 42nd consecutive month of declines.

The report "displayed only minimal improvement," said Peter E. Kretzmer, senior economist with Bank of America Corp. "While a healthier result than December's dismal report, it still demonstrated only very gradual job growth, with continued manufacturing payroll declines."

Add it all up, and a 5.6 percent unemployment rate with 8.4 million Americans out of work was disappointingly bad news in February 2004 as George W. Bush was beginning his campaign for reelection.

But somehow, eight years later, as a president the media adore seeks his reelection bid, 8.3 percent unemployment with 12.8 million out of work means happy days are here again.

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