Yesterday's Employment Situation Summary from the Bureaus of Labor Statistics told us that reports 111,000 net new jobs were added in January. Additionally, significant upward revisions were made to the previously reported job-increase figures from November (up 42,000 to 196,000 from last month’s revised 154,000) and December (up 39,000 to 206,000 from last month’s originally reported 167,000). So with revisions, there were 192,000 more people working (111+42+39) at the end of January than were thought to be working as of the end of December, and 513,000 more (111+196+206) than three months ago.
It gets better.
In that same Employment Situation Summary released yesterday, the BLS reported on its "Annual Revisions to Establishment Survey Data." Doesn't sound like much, but read the fine print:
In accordance with annual practice, the establishment survey data have been revised to reflect comprehensive universe counts of payroll jobs, or benchmarks. These counts are derived principally from unemployment insurance tax records for March 2006. As a result of the benchmark process, all not seasonally adjusted data series were subject to revision from April 2005 forward, the time period since the last benchmark was established.
The total nonfarm employment level for March 2006 was revised upward by 752,000 (754,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis). The previously published level for December 2006 was revised upward by 981,000 (933,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis).
In other words, BLS "found" well over 900,000 more jobs, most of which (averaging about 63,000 per month) were added between April 2005 and March 2006. This was a time during which the "weak job growth" meme still had life in it. BLS's Annual Revision shows that the meme had no validity during that time.
So how does job growth during the Bush years look after incorporating the Annual Revision? Well, even more "Clintonian" than when I last looked at it a month ago:
On Friday’s "Good Morning America," reporter Elizabeth Vargas openly lobbied for the passage of legislation that would require employers to offer six weeks of paid time off to workers for maternity, illness, or the care of a loved one. In addition, the ABC correspondent bashed America for not having "flexible, family friendly polices." According to Vargas, a new Harvard University study places the United States near the bottom among countries that provide paid maternity leave. She also offered only token opposition to the idea that all employers should be forced to give six weeks, plus the standard sick time and vacation. For the most part, the segment came across as a stinging indictment of the U.S.:
Robin Roberts: "Now to a new study from Harvard about paid maternity leave all around the world. It ranks countries based on how generous or stingy their benefits were. And the bottom five countries may have you scratching your head and saying, 'You must be kidding.' ABC's Elizabeth Vargas is here with the details. And we did see this and we were like, no, no, no. This cannot be right."
Elizabeth Vargas: "Everybody has that reaction, Robin. 26 million mothers in this country work. The vast majority say to make ends meet, they must. With that many moms in the workforce, you'd think the U.S. would lead the way in flexible, family-friendly policies. Think again. For millions of working moms, those first weeks after giving birth are a time to take off, recover, and bond with your new baby. But increasingly, the question is who pays?"
Hillary has let her sticky fingers show again. Will the MSM pay attention?
We're all familiar with her statement from 2004: "the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."
Speaking today at the DNC's winter meeting, she let that same Hillary-knows-best side show:
"The other day the oil companies recorded the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits. And I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy, alternatives and technologies that will actually begin to move us in the direction of independence.
Yesterday, President Bush became the second sitting president to ever take a stroll on the New York Stock Exchange floor (Ronald Reagan was the first to do so). Bush also gave a speech at Federal Hall in which he defended his tax cuts, as well as No Child Left Behind, and his policy initiatives in general. But his policy remarks got no attention last night on the evening newscasts, which instead hyped his talking points on CEO pay and income inequality, two liberal themes.
Most media storylines on the economy are predictable. Tax cuts "cost" the government money. The wealthy don't pay their fair share, and, socialized medicine is the only comprehensive way to address health care problems.
That last one's been in vogue lately as Democrats have raised health care as part of their "100 Hours" agenda. So our very own Julia Seymour took a look at the media's push for Big Brother to play doctor to 300 million Americans.
But then there's the ones that are just patently laughable. Like where the media pick the interests of say fish, over people. Look to none other than our friends at The Washington Post for that one. You can find our writeup on that here.:
The nation’s gross domestic product grew at a much faster than expected rate in the fourth quarter as wages increased and inflationary pressures decreased. Will the media care, or figure out a way to tie consumer enthusiasm to the Democrats taking back Congress?
Before you place your bets, let’s look at the facts as reported by Bloomberg (emphasis mine throughout):
The U.S. economy grew at a faster- than-forecast annual pace of 3.5 percent last quarter, propelled by a rebound in consumer spending as gasoline prices fell and wages grew.
The growth rate was the strongest since the first three months of 2006 and followed a 2 percent third-quarter pace, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. A measure of inflation watched by the Federal Reserve rose at a slower pace.
Hmmm. Strong growth. Lower inflation. Strong wages. Doesn’t sound like what the media have been reporting, does it? Well, the details are even better:
If you wake up on Saturday mornings and flip on the telly hoping to catch solid Wall Street analysis or perhaps a roundup of foreign and domestic business headlines that affect your investment portfolio, don't waste your time with CNN's "In the Money."
Rather than looking to help average joes invest wisely and benefit from a strong economy and a resilient stock market, the CNN crew would much rather sound like Heidi Cullen hosting a movie night/slumber party for the Al Gore fan club.
PBS tonight airs a documentary on the late Milton Friedman, and perhaps surprisingly enough, the taxpayer-funded network did a good job. [check here for local listings]
UPDATE: You know it's gotta be good. NY Times reviewer Ginia Bellafante panned it for being too worshipful of the free market advocate. And yes, your eyes deceive you not, she found a downside to ending the draft (Friedman opposed military conscription, favoring an all-volunteer force).
Below is an excerpt from a review published to the BusinessandMedia.org Web site by Hillsdale political economy professor and BMI advisor Dr. Gary Wolfram.:
We all know the face of real terror. Nick Berg getting his head sawed off by a knife wielding Islamist, suicide bombers laying waste to mass transit in Israel, the World Trade Towers collapsing on the morning of 09/11/01. That is real terror.
But, to Reuters, enforcing U.S. immigration laws is terror.
Words like "fearful", "shock", "afraid" and "terrified" are sprinkled all through the article leaving the impression that something mean and violent is occurring to these poor people. One would think that we are rounding up Mexican and Central and South Americans who are in this country illegally and herding them off to torture camps or to some Holocaust redux.
CNN anchor Lou Dobbs appeared with the ladies on ABC's The View to deliver some rather liberal opinions. He stumped for a minimum wage increase, railed against the influence big corporations have on politics, and pushed for universal healthcare. Interestingly, Dobbs was not grilled the way Bill O’Reilly was on the same show several months ago. Also of note, the co-hosts did not even touch illegal immigration, the one issue where Lou Dobbs is famously conservative.
Rosie O’Donnell asked the question she has been obsessing on lately.
O’Donnell: "Mr Dobbs, do you think that some Senator for principle, if not for follow through, should call for the impeachment of George Bush?"
Dobbs did not answer the question, perhaps because he does not want to upset his CNN colleague Jack Cafferty. Instead, Dobbs sighed and exclaimed "boy" before listing his complaints about Bush administration failings. ABC went to a hard break before O'Donnell and Joy Behar could get a definitive yes or no out of him.
Video clip of Dobbs failing to reject the idea of impeaching President Bush, ending with ABC's hard ad break (56 seconds): Real (1.7 MB) or Windows Media (1.9 MB), plus MP3 audio (400 KB)
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta found another explanation for why Junior is rolling round the family room with a spare tire: food advertising on the Internet.
It gets better. The study he's citing is 6 months old and hails from the liberal Kaiser Family Foundation. What's more, Gupta didn't give any tips for parents about how to regulate their kids Internet use and only gave 6 seconds to an advertising industry spokesman for comment.
Sounds like Dr. Sanjay has a fever, and the only prescription is bigger government.
UPDATE: I put together clips from Gupta's story, as clips from ABC's "World News" and CBS's "The Early Show" that display similar biases. You can find that video here (Windows Media) and here (Real Player).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly report on "mass layoffs" yesterday. It also included annual totals and an eleven-year chart of mass layoff history.
A "mass layoff action" involves "at least 50 persons from a single establishment." Since 1988, employers have been required to give 60 days notice of "covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs." The BLS Mass Layoffs report compiles those notices.
Now that 2006 is in the record books, here is that eleven-year chart:
As you can see, the total number of "layoff events" in 2006 came in at the lowest on record (BLS began compiling these statistics during the second quarter of 1995), while the number of people who filed unemployment claims as a result of those layoffs was the lowest in 10 years. On a percentage-of-workforce basis, the number of unemployment claims filers in 2006 was also, along with the layoff events, the lowest in the 11 full years BLS has reported on this information.
On January 18, CBSNews.com posted an interview that "Public Eye" blogger Brian Montopoli conducted with business correspondent Anthony Mason. In the interview, Mason explained how he wound up reporting the business beat and why he thinks the media have a tendency to be critical of business, as well as admitting that the media in general have a liberal bias in story selection. You can find the full blog post with a link to the interview audio here.
I also took the liberty of clipping a few sound bites from his interview. It runs almost two minutes and can be found here.
In January 2006, Mason made similar comments about the media's coverage of American business:
CORRECTION: An earlier post incorrectly said none of the
evening newscasts carried a mention of the falling gas prices. I apologize for
Gasoline costs nearly 20 cents less than it did the same
time last year, but the good news merited only a passing mention on the night
before President Bush’s State of the Union address. By contrast, the networks
spent more than 10 minutes combined interviewing 2008 presidential candidate
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
"The price of gasoline fell by 6 cents last week to an
average of about $2.16 a gallon nationwide – a 14-cent decline over three
weeks,” the Associated Press reported January 22. AAA's Fuelgaugereport.com,
which displays data from the Oil Price Information Service, shows similar data.
"Retail gasoline prices have fallen 17 cents from this time
last year," and the price of crude oil has also been on a downward track, "down 86 cents at $51.13 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile
Exchange," the AP reported.
ABC's Charles Gibson mentioned the drop in a 15-second bit
on "World News," while CBS and NBC had no time for that good news. Each
network, however, gave the junior senator considerable air time on its January
ABC anchor Gibson gave the former first lady the most face
time with 5 minutes and 9 seconds in a satellite interview on "World News." NBC’s Brian Williams and CBS’s Katie Couric gave Clinton about the same time as a full-length
news report. Clinton’s
taped sit-down with Couric lasted 2 minutes and 40 seconds, while Williams’
taped in-studio chat was 2 minutes and 20 seconds.
One of my correspondents on my own site, Publius' Forum, has been trying to clear up a wretched email that was sent to one of our boys in Iraq refusing him service and telling him he should "pull out of Iraq".
Fox News has picked up this story that I have been watching for a few days. I've been trying to ascertain if it was real or another example of an internet hoax -- sometimes it isn't easy to tell these days -- but I think I can safely say it is real at this point. It has been rather hot news in Wisconsin over the last 48 hours, too.
The question is, will we see it farther and wider? Will the MSM pick up this story of our solder being ill treated by Discount-Mats.com, a Muslim owned, Wisconsin based floor mat company?
Army Sgt. Jason Hess, stationed in Taji, Iraq wanted to purchase a few floor mats for use in his station in Iraq and emailed the Wisconsin based floor mat company to ask if they would ship to an APO address in Iraq?
Proving that Al Gore isn't interested in any dispassionate investigation or debate about global Warming, Gore perpetrated a last minute disappearing act and skipped an interview with the biggest Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, that was set up months in advance.
Flemming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten culture editor, penned an interesting expose of Gore's ducking out on the Wall Street journal's Opinion Journal site today taking the former VP to task. How many other papers do you think will mention Gore's cowardice?
Bet, few... if not no... others do.
Al Gore is traveling around the world telling us how we must fundamentally change our civilization due to the threat of global warming. Last week he was in Denmark to disseminate this message. But if we are to embark on the costliest political project ever, maybe we should make sure it rests on solid ground. It should be based on the best facts, not just the convenient ones. This was the background for the biggest Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to set up an investigative interview with Mr. Gore. And for this, the paper thought it would be obvious to team up with Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," who has provided one of the clearest counterpoints to Mr. Gore's tune.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released what it calls its Usual Weekly Earnings Report for the Fourth Quarter of 2006 on Friday.
This is one of the more important reports the BLS releases because:
It looks at the earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, excluding part-timers, business owners, and the self-employed.
It looks at individuals, not households or families.
Unlike most reports, it tells us median earnings, the point at which half of workers are earning more and half earning less. Other reports covering "average" results may be distorted by the impact of high earners bringing up the reported average while a "typical" person at the median might not be making any progress.
It specifically compares nominal earnings increases at the median (i.e., before inflation) to inflation that occurred during the same time period. It therefore tells us whether the "typical" (as opposed to "average") worker has gotten ahead or has fallen behind during the period covered.
So it was very heartening to read the first paragraph from Friday's Usual Weekly Earnings report:
Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 106.9 million full-time wage and salary workers were $682 in the fourth quarter of 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. This was 3.5 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.9 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.
The AP has published a story today about the grand opening of the first McDonald's outlet with a drive-through window in China. It opened yesterday in Beijing to rave reviews from its first customers.
Apparently, the fast food chain is growing by leaps and bounds in the communist enslaved nation. McDonald's China CEO, Jeffery Schwartz is quoted in the AP piece about the company's growth in the Red Nation. "It's huge. It's a real priority for the global company because of the potential growth in China...We think drive-throughs are a big part of this."
And, when you read the AP's story everything seems upbeat and glowing about McDonald's growth and future opportunities in China." It's all good", as they say. And, it is no surprise that the AP's business writer, amusingly named Joe McDonald -- no I am serious, that IS his name-- was so aglow over the heightened business opportunities for the McDonald's chain.
Is there any industry that elite liberals in the media don't want to regulate? Perhaps it's a little tongue-in-cheek, but The Washington Post's Robin Givhan opened her fashion column in the January 19 Style section thusly:
"If anyone ever needed evidence of why industries should not be allowed to police themselves, the Council of Fashion Designers of American just provided it."
You know we've progressed as a society when our modern-day Upton Sinclair is a clothing critic concerned about models strutting down the catwalk rather than the slaughterhouses that produce the hamburgers they won't touch with a 10-foot pole.
Some times, real surprises arrive in your e-mail, such as: Newsweek's International Edition welcomed the New Year with an article titled "Iraq's Economy Is Booming." Nobody noticed this "mother of all surprises" in America, since the article wasn't placed in front of domestic customers (it is online). Why not? Liberal, Bush-hating politics, perhaps? Despite the often-reported violence and terrorism, Newsweek's Silvia Spring asserted "there's a vibrancy at the grass roots that is invisible in most international coverage of Iraq."
Canadian columnist Neil Reynolds noticed Spring's piece in Toronto's Globe and Mail:
OTTAWA -- More than U.S. troops are surging in Iraq. As the international edition of Newsweek magazine reported at year-end, the Iraqi economy is expanding at a rapid rate: "Civil war or not," writer Silvia Spring says, "Iraq has an economy and - mother of all surprises - it's doing remarkably well." Amid anarchy and savage violence, Iraq's construction industry is booming.
Gas prices and oil prices have been slipping lately, just not at the same rate. And that's a "real scandal" to some liberal, self-styled consumer advocates like Judy Dugan of The Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights. That's all well and good, of course, except when the media parrot the complaint and don't explain the group's biases.
That's exactly what we found from USA Today's front page treatment of sliding oil prices in its January 16 edition.
You can fill up here or read below the jump to top off the tank:
In an article (HT Instapundit) decrying the alleged environmental waste in the United Arab Emirates, Associated Press writer Jim Krane gave voice to the environmental strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome when he claimed:
But the oil-rich Emirates is considered a developing country, and even as a signatory to the United Nations Kyoto protocol on global warming, is not required to cut emissions. The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.
Decmber's rebound of the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) Manufacturing Index (from contraction in November at 49.5 to expansion in December at 51.4; noted as part of this post; any reading over 50.0 is considered expansion) was unprecedented.
Every long period of manufacturing expansion in the past 60 years has been followed by at least seven months of contraction. But the most recently ended expansion was followed by only one month of contraction before manufacturing moved right back into expansion mode again, as you'll see.
The following is from ISM history going all the way back to 1948; parenthetical values are for the month following the end of each streak, the lowest value it went to during the subsequent contraction, and the number of months of sub-50 performance occurred before the Index went back to 50.0 or higher (previous info carried forward from this previous post):
More than a decade after publisher Steve Forbes’s flat-tax platform temporarily vaulted him to the top of the pack of GOP presidential candidates, another prospective Republican presidential candidate is making tax simplification a centerpiece of his 2008 campaign. In announcing his exploratory committee, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback argued “We need a flat tax instead of the dreadful, incomprehensible tax code we now have,” today’s Wichita Eagle reported.
But unlike back in 1996, the media are now confronted with the evidence that the flat tax help boost wealth-producing economic growth. This week’s "Time" reports on the economic boom in the former Soviet republic of Estonia, which like many Eastern European countries has seen its fortunes rise since dumping socialism and instituting a flat tax. “The economy is now one of Europe’s most dynamic, racing along at an 11.3% growth clip,” Peter Gumbel writes this week in his “Letter from Estonia.”
Nearly eleven years ago, "Time" took dead aim at Forbes’s flat tax in a January 29, 1996 cover package, “Does the Flat Tax Make Any Sense,” an issue which hit mailboxes right before the New Hampshire primary.
James Carroll, whose Boston Globe columns might be viewed less as reasoned discourse and more as auto-therapy for his famous rift with his father, predictably turns his MLK, Jr. Day piece into a condemnation of all things American.
Vietnam was at the root of his split with his father, as Carroll documented in God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us. So Carroll naturally drags a Vietnam/Iraq analogy into his piece: "like Bush, Johnson was presiding over a lost war." Of course, if there was a lesson of Vietnam it's that we lost it because we lost the political will to win it.
Economists are hastily upgrading their forecasts for the US economy after a series of surprisingly strong reports suggesting the so-called "soft landing" may be over and growth is accelerating.
Over the past week, surprises have come in stronger-than-expected reports on US job creation, the trade balance and retail sales -- all key contributors to economic activity.
Lehman Brothers chief US economist Ethan Harris on Friday boosted his forecast for fourth quarter 2006 growth to an annualized rate of 3.3 percent, a leap from the firm's prior call for just 2.0 percent growth.
"After slowing in November, the economy seems to have regained its stride," Harris said.
..... The latest data defy predictions that the slump in real estate would filter into other areas of the economy, notably consumer spending.
The latest data showed US employers added a healthy 167,000 new jobs in December (196,000 with revisions to prior months -- Ed.), with unemployment holding at a low 4.5 percent. Average wages were up 4.2 percent annually.
NBC’s Brian Williams quickly breezed through news of a court ruling in Mississippi pertaining to Hurricane Katrina insurance claims. But unlike coverage of the case in the Associated Press and The New York Times, the “Nightly News” anchor cast the ruling only as a victory for storm damage victims, without looking at how it could harm the insurance industry or gum up courts by encouraging lawsuits.
Williams told viewers of the January 11 program about “A big legal victory today for a Biloxi, Miss., couple who sued State Farm Insurance for refusing to pay” their Hurricane Katrina damage claim. The ruling could prove helpful to “hundreds of other victims in that region” who could “benefit as a result,” the anchor insisted. All told, Norman and Genevieve Broussard walked out of court with nearly $3 million, Williams added.