AP's Meme on Job Growth Ignores April Dive in Total Hours Worked

One particular sentence has recently become a virtual meme at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press.

Its latest appearance is at Christopher Rugaber's report this afternoon on April's seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent drop in consumer spending. Rugaber, who infamously wrote "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession" in early April, perhaps betraying a bit of nervousness, called today's news "a sign that economic growth may be slowing." Deeper into his dispatch, he rolled out the meme:


Employers have added an average of 208,000 jobs a month since November. That's well above the monthly average of 138,000 during the previous six months.

That's nice, Chris, except for two things. One is obvious. The 208,000 average during the past six months includes an average of only 152,000 during the past two (138K in March and 165K in April).

The second is that the number of hours Americans are working dropped precipitously in April. As I noted elsewhere three weeks ago (bold is mine):

Seasonally adjusted government figures for April show that the private sector added 176,000 jobs, while average total weekly hours worked dropped from 3.926 billion to 3.909 billion, a fall-off of almost 16.6 million hours. That difference, the largest since October 2009 when the economy was still losing jobs, caused the number of “full-time equivalent” jobs (i.e., total weekly hours divided by 40) to fall by a stunning 416,000.

Additionally, as seen in the table below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average total weekly hours in April were only 16.7 million hours higher than they were at the end of 2012:

BLSaggregateWeeklyHoursToApril2013

This means the 813,000 seasonally adjusted jobs were added in the private sector represented only 417,000 full-time equivalents (16.695 million divided by 40). Each net employee added in the economy during the past four months has an average workweek of about 20.5 hours ([417,000 divided by 813,000] times 40).

The press has just begun to recognize that ObamaCare's definition of "full-time" as 30 hours per week in determining whether an employer must provide health insurance coverage is having a negative impact on full-time employment. That negative impact is very likely to continue, no matter how good the number of jobs added appears to be.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.