In case traditional news outlets "forget" to tell you, Uncle Sam announced this morning that second-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was revised sharply upward to 3.3% from the late July's advance estimate of 1.9%.
Dude, where's my recession?
Y'know, the recession that Barack Obama claimed we "almost certainly in" back in mid-July?
Believe it or not, there are supposedly legitimate economists out there who, despite today's news, still insist that we are in a recession -- right now! -- and have been for some time. And of course, reporters are finding them, and quoting them.
Earlier this week, when it was clear that a significant upward GDP revision was in the works, "journalists" at MarketWatch and CNNMoney.com, with the help of their "experts," did everything they could to downplay its impending significance. One even called it a "mirage."
The Land of Lincoln had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.3% in July, up 2.2% from the previous year's 5.1%. That puts Illinois, along with California, in a tie for fourth place in the worst state unemployment rate derby, behind only Michigan (8.5%), Mississippi (7.9%), and Rhode Island (7.7%).
Illinois' 2.2% year-over-year unemployment rate increase is the third largest in any state, behind only tiny Rhode Island's 2.7% and smaller state Tennessee's 2.3%. Over 80% of Illinois' deterioration has occurred in the last three months, as its March unemployment rate was only 5.5%.
A night after ABC's World News and the NBC Nightly News didn't air a word about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubling to 1.9 percent in the second quarter, up from 0.9 percent in the first, the two evening newscasts found newsworthy a rise in the unemployment rate, with NBC using the increase to segue to a story on how “a growing number of Americans are...being downsized from full-time work to part-time.” Fill-in ABC anchor David Muir announced:
We're going to turn this evening now to the unemployment report out today which shows a new flurry of pink slips in July. Employers cut 51,000 jobs last month, as the unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent. This marks the seventh month in a row with job losses.
NBC anchor Brian Williams, with “Hard Times” on screen, reported:
On the jobs front, the employers cut their payrolls for the seventh straight month in July, total of 51,000 jobs were shed just last month, bringing the total for the year so far to almost half a million. Unemployment rate jumped two-tenths of a percent to 5.7, that's now a four-year high. A growing number of Americans are struggling on the job front even though they're not unemployed. Instead, they're being downsized from full-time work to part-time. That report from NBC's Rehema Ellis.
That's it. NPR has declared Ohio a disaster area. Things are so bad. NPR gravely warns, that folks in the Buckeye state can't even afford to buy meat for their dinner tables anymore. It's the end of civilization as we know it. Doom and gloom. Oh the humanity. It's the end of the world as we know it... at least for one Ohio family that NPR found to act as stand in for the rest of the state. To NPR all of Ohio is the Nunez family. And what is NPR' solution? Government aid, of course.
In a segment of All Things Considered (well, all things but common sense, anyway), NPR gives us Gloria Nunez whose family, we are told, was "built on cars." NPR gives us all sorts of sobbing, rending of clothes, wearing of sackcloth and gnashing of teeth for the Nunez', of course. But even NPR can't hide some of the glaring problems that Gloria and her family have surely brought upon themselves.
In the wake of former Sen. Phil Gramm's statements earlier this week about this being a nation full of whiners, the good folks at ABC's "Good Morning America" brought on a consumer psychologist Sunday to discuss whether or not the McCain advisor had a point.
Shockingly, not only did Kit Yarrow tell host Kate Snow that "the way consumers feel about things is very emotional," but also these "emotions are trumping reality" thereby creating a snowball which makes the economy worse.
Yarrow not only believes that things are "not as bad as consumers feel like it is," but also that the media are at fault because "everything is described as a crisis."
What follows is a partial transcript of this rather shocking and refreshing exchange (video available here, photo courtesy ABCNews.com):
The Associated Press's disgraceful coverage of last week's Employment Situation Report from Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) got left behind in the holiday weekend hubbub, but calls out for comment nonetheless.
The AP's Jeannine Aversa reached into her Thesaurus as she began her report with what has become the wire service's standard monthly error of treating reported seasonally adjusted job reductions as reflecting real people thrown out on the streets by mean old employers (as you will see after the jump, reality, as usual, differed):
Whether you are a Starbucks patron or not, no doubt you've heard that the Seattle-based coffee chain plans to close 600 "underperforming" stores and cut about seven percent of its workforce.
Job loss is certainly not something to cheer about, yet Reuters found a unique story to tell on July 6, 2008. No, this wasn't the sad tale of roughly 12,000 soon-to-be unemployed baristas. It was a morbid report about coffee snobs who take "grim delight in Starbucks woes."
Reuters' unbalanced report quoted eight critics of the global coffee seller, including those who are "happy" about the store closures.
"I'm so happy. I'm so not a Starbucks person,' said Melinda Vegliotti, sipping iced coffee at the Irving Farm Coffee House in New York. 'I believe in supporting small businesses. Starbucks, bye-bye,'" she told Reuters.
Only one "defender" of Starbucks was included in that story, and the meager praise he offered was that it is "convenient."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to economic analyst Mark Zandi about the state of the economy and asked: "Oil's up, gasoline's up, food prices up, stocks, way, way, way, way down. Home owner -- home values are down. Is there an end in sight to all of this bad news?" Zandi replied: "You just made me depressed. No. It's just bad news. It really is...It's just a really tough time for many Americans."
Later, Smith commented on how all the bad economic news seems to contribute to bad economic events: "It just seems like we're in this cumulative cycle that, you know, once one threshold of bad news gets reached, we reach to yet another one." That comment sparked this exchange with Zandi:
ZANDI: Yeah, it's a self re-enforcing negative cycle. You know, that's what happens during recessions, and that's what we're in the middle of right now.
SMITH: Whoa, is this a recession?
ZANDI: You know that -- that's a debate among economists and policy makers. But in the minds of the average American household I think there's no debate, this is a recession. I mean they're worth less today than they were a year ago, they're purchasing power is lower. I mean, for most people that's the definition of recession. So, economists can debate it but I think most people think this is a recession.
"Good Morning America" highlighted how financial matters have Americans so stressed out, their health is literally deteriorating.
The segment, titled "Recession Depression," blamed personal issues on the "troubled" economy. ABC made yet another comparison between today's economy and the economy during the Great Depression. Only this time, the reference was used to predict a rise in suicides.
"The link between financial troubles and psychological problems is well documented," said ABC reporter Chris Cuomo.
It certainly wasn't surprising how press outlets desperately trying to depict the economy as depression-like in order to get Barack Obama in the White House were practically giddy following the dour jobs report released by the Labor Department last Friday.
What was shocking given the portion of May's unemployment rate rise attributed to high school and college students looking for summer jobs was that virtually no press outlets considered the impact last year's minimum wage hike might have had on young Americans finding temporary positions between school years.
Consider this op-ed published in Monday's Washington Examiner authored by Kristen Lopez Eastlick, the senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute (emphasis added throughout):
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa started off her Friday evening report on the day's economic news showing, as she and her AP colleagues have for several months, that they either don't understand very basic concepts relating to the information they're attempting to digest and convey or are deliberately reporting it inaccurately:
Pink slips piled up and jobs disappeared into thin air in May as the nation's unemployment rate zoomed to 5.5 percent in the biggest one-month jump in decades. Wall Street swooned, and the White House said President Bush was considering new proposals to revive the economy.
..... Help-wanted signs are vanishing along with jobs, so the unemployment rate is likely to keep climbing, a government report indicated .....
Make no mistake, the news was bad. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the economy lost 49,000 jobs in May, and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose by more than it has in any single month since the mid-1980s.
But that doesn't change the fact that Aversa either was deliberately inaccurate when she wrote that "pink slips piled up," or that she doesn't comprehend the subject matter she is supposed to be covering.
Specifically, what if it is better at picking up small-business job creation than the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)?
The media isn't asking this question, even though the two reports have diverged by over 400,000 jobs in the past four months (see latest reports here, here, and here on ADP's May estimate that 40,000 jobs were added, vs. expectations that it would come in at 30,000 jobs lost -- a 70,000 job difference).
So I will.
The differences between business outsourcing behemoth ADP's National Employment Report and BLS's Employment Situation Report have been significant since ADP began issuing theirs in roughly April 2006. The report's preparers, Macroeconomic Advisers, revised the report's methodology in February 2007.
Since its initial issuance, ADP and BLS have typically differed sharply. It has been easy to chalk this up to the fact that BLS has been at it for decades, while ADP's effort is new and untested. Perhaps too easy.
"It's not just here and it's not just GM. Since 2005, the big three - GM, Ford and Chrysler - have had 70 plants and supplier shutdowns with a total loss of 149,000 American jobs," CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers said. "At the same time, foreign automakers selling more fuel-efficient vehicles are building five new U.S. plants that will employ 24,000 workers over the next three years."
..... But Misses Chance to Refute "Jobs Slashed" Claims.
It's good to see that someone else is on the case of the recession-obsessed Associated Press, particularly reporter Jeannine Aversa. But even the estimable James Taranto, in his Best of the Web column yesterday, let Aversa's most obvious and repeated error go by without comment.
"As the U.S. economy slows, the story is often told through broad statistics," the "about" section of the blog stated. "In this blog, BusinessWeek reporter Tim Catts travels the country to uncover the stories of how individuals are coping with the downturn."
In early May, Richard Wolf at USA Today tried to make a big deal over a very small statistic, and wrote one of those "signs of hard times" pieces that have become all the rage these days in Old Media (previous examples are here and here).
Wolf's piece was hampered by a possibly excusable math error, courtesy of the data supplied. But he also showed no curiosity as to why there have been such wide variations in state-by-state changes in the number of those receiving "welfare" (now known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF).
Here's how his report began:
States' welfare caseloads starting to rise
State welfare rolls, which declined for more than a decade after a 1996 overhaul of the nation's cash-assistance program, are beginning to rise, due in part to the struggling economy.
The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has long been an indispensable voice of conservatism. As President Bush said in 2003 in awarding the Medal of Freedom to editorial page editor Robert L. Bartley shortly before his death, he—and by extension his editorial page—has been "a champion of free markets, individual liberty and the values necessary for a free society."
But there is one area in which the editorial page's policy diverges strikingly from conservative orthodoxy, and that is on the matter of immigration. To varying degrees, the paper's editorialists have argued in favor of a more flexible attitude toward immigration. That tendency reaches its apotheosis in the recently-released book by WSJ editorial board member Jason Riley: Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders.
Riley appeared on this weekend's Journal Editorial Report on FNC to discuss his book with host Paul Gigot and make the case that borders should indeed be opened. Riley seemed surprisingly passive in the defense of his controversial proposal, and I personally came away unpersuaded. Here was the exchange.
Someone forgot to tell the Wall Street Journal's Kelly Evans and Justin Lahart, carried here at the Arizona Republic, that they're supposed to portray the economy in a bad light whenever and wherever possible. I'll get to the pair's report later.
That "bad light" directive seems seared into the minds of the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger and his AP colleagues, as they continue to "cling to recession," and attempt to convince consumers and businesses that if perchance we're not already in one, it's just around the bend.
The AP's persistence has borne dreadful fruit. Relentlessly downbeat reporting during at least the past six years by the wire service's business reporters -- who largely determine what most Americans see, hear, and read about the economy -- is a big reason, if not the most important reason, why most Americans, as seen in the latest consumer confidence report, have a negative economic outlook and are convinced that we are in a recession.
How different do you think Americans' take on the current economy would be if the business press picked up on the fact that the bad employment news is coming predominantly out of two struggling states -- and that most of the rest of the nation is holding its own?
Amid talk among the mainstream media of a sinking economy in which the elderly must live in vans and others cannot afford to drive 35 miles to church on Sundays, the Associated Press did note a drop in unemployment from 2006 to 2007. But even that news was buried in a story about the military and was used to explain trouble had in meeting recruiting goals.
On May 13, an AP story by writer Anne Flaherty used this drop in unemployment to explain that the military is having difficulty recruiting young people. But just a day before, the Associated Press reported that every branch of the military met its recruiting goals for the month of April, some branches even surpassed them. As Warner Todd Huston noted, AP’s Pauline Jelinek reasoned that the military was successful in its recruitment efforts because “other job possibilities” are limited.
Don’t you just hate it when newsrooms can’t agree over which biased meme should rule the day?
Worker productivity rose by a better-than-expected amount in the first three months of the year while labor cost pressures eased.
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter. That was slightly higher than the 1.5 percent increase that had been expected.
The network news broadcasts are to blame for the American people's widely held misconception that the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to Media Research Center founder and President L. Brent Bozell III.
"How in the world is it that 81 percent of the American people believe that we're in a recession?" Bozell asked on CNBC's "Kudlow and Company" May 2. "Maybe it's because the national networks this year, and we've counted it, have talked about a recession over 500 times."
Despite all the gloom and doom, the employment picture in April was much better than economists had expected, and, maybe more important, quite different than the Hooveresque, Depression Era picture media members have been painting for months.
Makes you wonder if in press rooms all around America, as well as in Democrat campaign headquarters across the fruited plain, there was a huge sigh of disappointment at 8:30 AM EDT when the Labor Department released the data.
Critical updates at end of post including FAR better-than-expected factory orders report!
As such, without further ado, here's the news most people in the nation actually hoping for a good economy will be glad to hear:
Would it have been any better for Barack Obama to have said people "rely" on bigotry rather than "cling" to it? I don't think so, but apparently he does . . .
This morning's "Today" aired an extended clip from an interview Meredith Vieira recently conducted of Barack and Michelle Obama. The full interview will be shown Saturday on MSNBC. While I didn't detect any blockbuster moments, there were a few notable nuggets.
On the issue of why he didn't distance himself from Rev. Wright sooner, Obama says: "When those first snippets came out, I thought it was important to give him the benefit of the doubt." That would suggest Obama actually had some doubt as to where Rev. Wright stood. Is that credible, after 20 years in the angry pastor's pews?
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa really should change her writing focus, because economics is clearly not her specialty.
After telling readers in March that "Dangerous cracks in the nation's job market" are "ominous signs that the country is falling toward a recession or has already toppled into one," Aversa had the gall to report Wednesday, "The bruised economy limped through the first quarter of this year at a six-tenths of a percentage point growth rate as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down."
Are you joking? You, your wire service, and virtually every media outlet in the nation have been telling Americans that we're already in a recession. A government report comes out saying that we're not, and this is how you begin your article covering the surprising announcement?
How disgraceful. Sadly, that was just the beginning (emphasis added, h/t NB reader PunditDotCom):
High food prices may be affecting middle-income families, but an anecdotal report on CBS's "The Early Show" April 28 made the situation seem as if one family's use of a food bank was "the new face of hunger."
CBS reporter Priya David highlighted Pablo and Ada Melecio, a couple who recently lost their jobs and have elected to use a food bank to make ends meet. Ada Melecio said their "mortgage payments started falling behind and all the interest on that plus all the credit cards" were making their situation even worse.
Friday's 20/20 aired a piece on liberal columnist Arianna Huffington in which ABC host John Stossel got to challenge Huffington's views on issues like welfare, OSHA regulations, and the "lunatic fringe" of the Republican party. When Stossel took her to task for living in a $7 million home that is "burning more carbon than 100 people in the Third World" even while she is part of the "war on global warming," Huffington responded: "There is no question that the fact that I'm living in a big house, I occasionally travel on private planes, all those things are a contradiction. I'm not setting myself up as some paragon who only goes around on a bicycle and lives by candlelight." (Transcript follows)
The unemployment rate in most states has gone up from September 2007 to March 2008. In states where the rate has gone down, none has shown an improvement like that seen in the Sooner State -- not even close.
Why is that?
What has happened in Oklahoma that hasn't happened elsewhere?
For months, NewsBusters has been warning readers of the likelihood that media will adopt the 1992 Clinton playbook of regularly depicting the economy as being far worse than it really is.
On Sunday, the Democratic National Committee released a new television advertisement attacking GOP presidential candidate John McCain with economic statistics that don't measure up to even the slightest scrutiny.
With this in mind, will press outlets this campaign season investigate the economic claims being made by the candidates and their supporters, or allow inaccuracies present in this ad (embedded video to the right), and likely others in the months to come, to go completely unchallenged?
Consider the following written statement in this ad supposedly answering the question "Are Americans better off than they were 8 years ago?":