Here's another Old Media non-followup on yesterday's news: Failure to get a reaction from two Democratic presidential candidates who had harsh things to say a month ago when August's weak employment report was released.
That August report showed a loss of 4,000 jobs. The Old Media "recession worries" chorus was deafening. August's job-increase number was revised upward to a pickup of 89,000 as part of yesterday's report. As noted by Baker and Gainor, Old Media reaction to that revision was relatively muted. I also don't see that anyone in Old Media pointed out that the total new-jobs increase, including prior revisions, was a gain of 228,000 jobs (September's initial +110,000 pickup, August's +93,000 revision, and a +25,000 revision to July).
The two leading Democratic presidential candidates opportunistically jumped on that initial August report and its supposed implications in early September, reporter Edmund Andrews noted in a New York Times article:
When the Labor Department reported a net loss of 4,000 jobs for August, the September 7 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts highlighted the bad news as evidence of an impending recession, but on Friday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised the August number to a gain of 89,000 jobs and reported 110,000 new jobs for September (AP story), only ABC bothered to mention the revision while CBS didn't utter a syllable about either jobs gain. The CBS Evening News anchored by Harry Smith, however, found time to note the Postal Service's decision to honor two CBS journalists -- Eric Sevareid and George Polk -- with stamps.
A month ago, Katie Couric plugged an upcoming look at “new worries about the U.S. economy following a disappointing jobs report.” Harry Smith then cited “new concern about the economy tonight following a report which showed the number of jobs in the U.S. dropped by 4,000 in August, the first monthly decline in four years.” Anthony Mason asserted “it had a lot of economists uttering the 'r' word today, recession,” and fretted: “These job numbers are the most worrisome sign yet, Harry, that the housing slump and the mortgage crisis could take the entire economy down with them.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “The economy loses jobs for the first time in years as the housing crisis raises the risk of recession.” Betsy Stark declared: “The risks of a serious slowdown, even a recession, are rising. Today's jobs report was shockingly bleak.”
I wonder how the media will pretend this is bad news? The latest employment numbers are in and not only are they solid, but last month wasn't the catastrophe first reported.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced 110,000 jobs were created in September and 89,000 were created in August. The August number replaces the 4,000 jobs lost that were first reported. If you flash back to last month, you'll remember how much the media screamed about this. ABC was declaring the August numbers a sign of "new fears this morning about the state of our economy," said Bill Weir on September 8. That's how he lead off a downbeat "Good Morning America" story entitled "Road to Recession? Bleak Signals from Job Report."
It only got worse. "And now many are asking whether the disappointing employment figures, coupled with the housing crisis, may head us, have us headed for a serious economic downturn or even recession," worried Weir.
If you watched any television newscasts Friday, or read a paper Saturday, you were bombarded with claims of doom and gloom as a result of the August unemployment report showing 4,000 fewer people on American payrolls than in July.
Yet, what media largely ignored were shifting sociological population dynamics indicating this summer's poor jobs gains could be caused by the smallest percentage of teenagers seeking work since such data started being collected in 1948.
In fact, though the "civilian noninstitutional population" of persons sixteen to nineteen-years-old reached 17 million for the first time in history last month, only 5.665 million of these teens were employed, the fewest for any August since 1965 when the population of such young adults was only 13 million.
Isn't this newsworthy? Well, there's much more that was ignored in this report for those actually interested in facts rather than excessively bearish, pessimistic spin.
Almost everybody within earshot of a broadcasting device yesterday knows that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a net loss of 4,000 jobs in the economy in August. Unemployment rate, at 4.6%, was unchanged.
Reporting, and misreporting, by the New York Times and Associated Press set Old Media's template for the story. Some reports, including this one by Vikas Bajaj at the Times, laid the entire onus of the loss on private companies:
Companies reduced their payrolls by 4,000 jobs in August, a sudden turnaround from the net increase of 68,000 jobs in July.
Most Americans understand that unemployment declining is a good thing.
Yet, the folks at the Associated Press seem confused about this economic statistic as evidenced by an article published Saturday entitled "Help Wanted Ads Go Unanswered in West."
In fact, contrary to a media fixated on bashing corporations and business owners as greedy little devils, Matt Gouras' piece actually elicited sympathy for folks normally in the press' crosshairs while oddly downplaying the benefits tight labor markets typically bring employees (emphasis added throughout, h/t to an NB reader in Hawaii):
One of the Associated Press's earliest articles following Friday morning's release of the government's Employment Report, which showed July's unemployment ticking up 0.1% to 4.6% and new jobs increasing by 92,000, had this outrageous paragraph (backup link is here in case the article is revised or removed; bolds are mine):
Construction companies slashed 12,000 jobs in July. Manufacturers shed 2,000 and retailers cut a thousand. Some 28,000 government jobs were eliminated. In contrast, education and health care added 39,000. Leisure and hospitality expanded employment by 22,000. Professional and business services added 26,000 new positions.
Note that AP uses violent terminology to describe relatively modest decreases in employment caused by (apparently evil) private-sector employers, while it applies relatively bland verbs to much larger private-sector increases. Meanwhile, the description of the large reduction in government jobs slips into passive voice, with no perpetrator identified. Zheesh -- How obviously biased can you get?
More discussion, this week's winner, and a chart comparing Bush 43 and late Clinton-era economic performance are after the break.
You'd think it was the news media that "got a raise" last week for all the cheering. The federal minimum wage was increased on July 24 by 70 cents to $5.85 an hour and will go up by the same amount in 2008 and 2009.
CNN's Ali Velshi gleefully greeted the change on "American Morning" July 24. He called it "unmitigated good news."
ABC's Claire Shipman also called it "good news for thousands of low-paid workers," on "Good Morning America" the same day.
In 1992, Bill Clinton successfully used a campaign strategy of continually focusing attention on the supposedly poor economy thinking that Americans typically vote with their wallets.
Of course, most intelligent people know that the recession actually ended in early 1991, and that this strategy would have failed miserably had the media not been complicit, and, instead, honestly reported economic realities.
Regardless, it appears media at this point are concerned that a strong economy and rising stock market might undermine Democrat presidential candidates in November 2008.
With that in mind, the New York Times' Tom Redburn wrote an article Saturday that diminished the importance of the economy in the upcoming elections, threw cold water on the premise that presidents have any impact on economic developments, and told readers to be much more concerned with - wait for it - the war in Iraq.
In fact, the article actually began (h/t Lynn Davidson, emphasis added throughout):
As NewsBusters has been reporting this week (see this and this), as the stock market hit new all-time highs, the media have been dour Nervous Nellies carping and whining about gas prices, the low value of the dollar, the housing slump, and the rising trade deficit.
Yet, there are a variety of issues that press outlets have conveniently ignored during this record bull run that not only explain rising stock prices, but also give a more accurate view of what is going on in the global economy.
For instance, Bloomberg was one of the only major media outlets Tuesday which reported record purchases of U.S. securities by foreigners in May (emphasis added):
When Matt Lauer introduced a segment on the booming stock market by asking "is the rising tide lifting all boats?" I braced myself for another MSM excursion into class warfare. But surprise, surprise . . .
CNBC's Erin Burnett narrated the segment, and her opening also made me figure we were in for more bash-the-rich rhetoric. "Another day, another record on Wall Street . . . As stocks rise, it is time to finally ask, who is really making all the money? Who are the winners of the global economic boom?"
Cut to clips of the Dem presidential contenders, including Hillary offering up this bit of class warfare at its pandering worst: "while productivity and corporate profits are up, the fruits of that success just hasn't [sic] reached many of our families. It's like trickle-down economics but without the trickle."
But then came the surprising shift of gears.
CNBC'S ERIN BURNETT: But while the rich are getting richer, you may be too. Here's why: more than half of Americans are invested in the market, whether through a 401(k) plan or buying stocks or mutual funds, and many of those investments are surging. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 12% so far this year, and if your retirement plan invested in oil, that alone is up 21%. It's also worth noting that while politicians talk about "two Americas" [get ready to duck, John Edwards] virtually all Americans are seeing wages rise, and unemployment is at an historic low.
On this morning's GMA, a classic bit of MSM advocacy for more government regulation of business that will drive up costs and drive out jobs. The occasion is the hearings today before the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), on a proposal to expand family and medical leave and impose mandatory sick leave.
Introducing the segment, ABC's David Wright lamented that "it's something that every parent struggles with: how to balance work and family. And the U.S. lags far behind other countries in helping parents to cope. Here on Capitol Hill today, Congress will take the first baby steps to try to address that situation."
For the third time in 2007, ABC has used its "Good Morning America" program to deride the United States for not being generous enough in providing paid leave for employees. On the Thursday edition of the show, reporter David Wright complained that "the U.S. doesn't make it easy" for working parents. He used a 2007 study to claim that, on this issue, America is no better then several Third World nations.
At no point did the ABC reporter mention that countries who provide generous leave, such as France, also have extremely high taxes and high unemployment. (The French are currently at 8.7 percent.)
After an introduction by host Robin Roberts that explained how Congress is considering legislation to expand federal and medical lave, Wright cited a recent Harvard-McGill study that lumps the U.S. in with third world countries such as Swaziland:
Among Tuesday's broadcast evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News uniquely relayed the positive news of a shrinking federal budget deficit, as released by the Treasury Department. As anchor Katie Couric read a brief item on the subject, she described the data as "some good news for a change" as she reported that tax revenues are "way up" and that the budget deficit is almost "35 percent lower than it was last year." Couric: "To the economy now, and some good news for a change about the deficit. It's actually shrinking."
Notably, on the Saturday June 9 edition of CNN's In the Money, during a discussion of the effect of the economy on the presidential race, guest Greg Valliere of Stanford Washington Research Group chided the media for not reporting on good economic news in light of lower budget deficit numbers as he described the overall economy as "okay" and the unemployment rate of 4.5 percent as "a great number." The show's anchor, Christine Romans, defended the media's obsession with the cost of the Iraq war. Romans: "I think one of the reasons why, and I can't speak for the rest of the media, but why there may be the perception, at least, that it's been ignored is there is an incredible amount of spending going on for the war in Iraq, and that is something that, you know, we have to pay for." (Transcripts follow)
The three charts at the end of this post from the Bureau of Labor Statistics should be cause for concern.
They show the unemployment rates for Blacks (African-Americans), all teens, and African-American teens during the past 10 years.
Each low unemployment-rate point achieved in 2000, when the overall unemployment rate reached its low point of 3.8%, was much lower than it is currently. Specifically:
The Black/African American unemployment rate is 1.5% point higher (8.5% currently, 7.0% in April 2000). The percentage of African-Americans who are unemployed is still 21% higher (8.5/7.0) than it was at its low point in 2000.
The teen unemployment rate is 3.4% point higher (15.7% currently, 12.3% in June 2000). The percentage of teens who are unemployed is still 28% higher (15.7/12.3) than it was at its low point in 2000.
The Black/African American teen unemployment rate is 10.4% point higher (30.4% currently, 20.0% in April 2000). The percentage of African-American teens who are unemployed is still 52% higher (30.4/20.0) than it was at its low point in 2000.
If the 2007 unemployment rates in the these categories were the same as they were in 2000, the overall unemployment rate would be about 0.3% lower, and much closer to its 2000 low.
As global warming alarmists in the media and on tour buses enflame hysteria concerning a nonexistent climate crisis, there is an inconvenient truth they routinely ignore: carbon dioxide emission reductions will hurt economies across the globe while worsening poverty.
This seemingly immutable fact, which continually eludes the deluded such as soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore and his band of not so merry sycophants, is understood by India which has up to this point refused to participate in any emissions requirements set forth by the United Nations.
As reported by Australia’s Herald Sun Tuesday (h/t Benny Peiser):
Appearing on Good Morning America today, Geraldo Rivera claimed that illegal aliens in the United States are "law abiding." Is he right?
In a debate moderated by GMA co-host Diane Sawyer that began today at about 7:15 am EDT, Geraldo faced off against Glenn Beck. Rivera made a case for letting the estimated 12 million illegal aliens remain in the country.
GERALDO RIVERA: We have 12 million people who are gainfully employed; the vast majority of them are. I submit to you that these people are a vital part of the American economy. That they are doing jobs that essentially Americans don't want. Americans are fully employed. To lose these 12 million hard-working people, law-abiding, family people, socially-conservative people in many ways, I think would be a travesty.
When Beck challenged Geraldo's law-abiding claim, pointing to the three illegal aliens who were among the al Qaeda-inspired terrorists planning to attack Fort Dix, Rivera retorted that the fence Beck favors wouldn't have kept them out, since they came in through JFK airport.
As the stock market has continued to regularly make new highs in 2007, how many times have you heard or read a media report carping about how the rich are getting richer?
Quite a bit, right?
If you feel bombarded with such inanities, consider that a completely unaudited LexisNexis search of major American media outlets identified 234 reports which included phrases like “rich get richer,” “income inequality,” “wealth disparity,” etc., since January 1.
Add it all up, and that’s almost two a day.
A fine example of this nauseating mantra was demonstrated by CBS’s Charles Osgood on “Sunday Morning” April 15:
Here’s an extraordinarily inconvenient truth the press will likely not report: a “cap-and-trade” program designed to curb carbon emissions in order to "solve" global warming will negatively impact the poor the most.
Think Charlie, Brian, and Katie will do a story on this tonight?
Regardless of the answer, the reality is that as folks like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore and his sycophant devotees recommend solutions to a conceivably nonexistent problem, few care to address the negative economic impact of such strategies.
Towards that goal, the Congressional Budget Office released a study on Wednesday that didn’t paint a very pretty picture of the financial ramifications of a cap-and-trade program proposed by Democrats (emphasis added throughout):
Brian Wesbury, whose previous writings have been blogged on many times by yours truly (including here, here, here, and here), is very tired of the dissing the current economy is taking, and especially how it is unfavorably compared to the economy of the 1990s:
Here are Three Things to Remember about The Government's Monthly Employment Reports:
First, the initial report for the current month by the Bureaus of Labor Statistics (BLS) has usually contained significant upward revisions to previous months, as shown here:
For the past seven months, the number reported for jobs added in the current month has been, on average, less than 2/3 of the total reported increase in jobs, because of significant revisions to prior months.
Second, as you would expect because of the first point, the current month's initially reported total has usually been revised upward quite a bit in subsequent months:
"Six years ago, Brian Lavelle moved out of the city of Cleveland to the nearby suburb of Lakewood for what he thought would be a better life. Back then, Lavelle, 38, was a forklift operator in a steel mill making $14 an hour. He had a house, a car and was saving for his retirement. Then, three years ago, the steel mill closed and Lavelle found that the life he dreamed of was just that, a dream. The suburbs, he quickly learned, are a tough place to live if you're poor. For starters, there isn't much of a safety net in his community. Food pantries, job-retraining centers and low-cost health clinics are hard to come by.
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:
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 the bright side, during MSNBC's State of the Union Coverage, correspondent David Shuster pointed out a couple of "misleading" claims made by Senator Jim Webb in the Democratic Response. After critiquing some of President Bush's statements, Shuster moved on to focus on Webb's speech. In response to Webb's complaint that wages "are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth," Shuster countered that "when you compare wages and salaries to cost of living," as economists normally do, "the sky is not falling in the way that Jim Webb suggested." And in response to Webb's complaint about manufacturing jobs being transferred overseas, Shuster pointed out that "high-tech jobs are coming to America." (Transcript follows)
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.
An unbylined report on unemployment claims by the Associated Press is a classic of the genre (bold is mine):
The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless claims dropped by 26,000 to 299,000 last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. It marked the first time jobless claims have fallen below 300,000 since the week of July 22.
The improvement was much better than the decline of 9,000 that analysts had been expecting and provided further evidence that the slowing U.S. economy has not begun to seriously affect the labor market outside of specific industries such as housing and auto manufacturing.
SLOWING? Did AP ever consider that maybe claims are dropping because the economy may NOT be slowing?
It's not like there is a lack of evidence of continued and probably accelerating growth:
Today's announcement there were 167,000 net new jobs in December (196,000 counting revisions to prior months), and that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.5%, made me wonder how job growth during the Bush prosperity compares to job growth during comparable periods in the 1990s.