AP's Wiseman Botches Math to Falsely Claim Past Four Months' Job Adds Are Best in Two Years
It would seem that Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press had his copy prepared in advance for today's jobs report.
The consensus was that today's report from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics would show that 200,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were added in March. So it was a virtual lock that today's result would mean that the past four months were the best for net hiring in the past two years. Accordingly, after the report's release, Wiseman, despite the disappointing news that March's number was only 120,000, apparently just plugged in the four-month total and ran with it:
Unfortunately for Wiseman and AP, today's actual result was so low that it made the related four-month total of 858,000 for December through March lower than the four-month total for November through February:
Based on the time stamp on the report above, the error remained for at least 3 hours before being corrected; I think it may have lingered for several more hours elsewhere. Update: Actually, you can still find a copy of Wiseman's earlier version containing the erroneous "best four months of hiring in two years" reference here at Yahoo.
A report by Wiseman time-stamped at 5:51 p.m. no longer contains the error. But its headline ("US job market takes a break after hiring binge") gives away the kind of shameless exercise in administration aggrandizement and excuse-making readers will see if they read on.
I'll deal with that tomorrow.