None of the three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims is reporting the major news: For the first time in a long while, actual claims filed during the most recent week ended January 12 were almost 6 percent higher than the number filed during last year's comparable week, an indication that the current employment market may be worse than it was a year ago. Instead, all three are headlining how today's questionably created seasonally adjusted claims number is the lowest in five years.
Both weeks had five business days. Both weeks represented the first such week in the new year. So how did higher raw claims result in the lowest seasonally adjusted claims number in five years, a number which is 8 percent lower than last year's comparable week? The answer, as will be seen after the jump, is that the seasonal adjustment factor used this year is sharply higher than the one used last year.
A week ago, Associated Press reporters and their articles' headlines described the nation's job market in positive terms. An early a.m. report on Janaury carried this headline: "U.S. job market resilient despite budget fight." Later that same morning, just before the government's release of that day's employment report, there was this: "Jobs report expected to show underlying economic strength." Late that afternoon, reacting to the news that the economy had a December unemployment rate of 7.8 percent while adding 155,000 seasonally adjusted jobs, AP reporters Paul Wiseman and Christopher Rugaber described the performance as "matching the solid but unspectacular monthly pace of the past two years."
Reports from wire services other than the AP, which might as well stand for the Administration's Press, weren't as rosy. At Reuters ("Mediocre job growth points to slow grind for U.S. economy"), Jason Lange observed that December's hiring pace was "short of the levels needed to bring down a still lofty unemployment rate." Fair enough, but what the press continues to virtually ignore -- while obsessing over the same problem early last decade when the problem was nowhere near as severe -- is the plight of the long-term unemployed.
On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Nancy Cordes trumpeted the passage of Senate Democrats' temporary fiscal cliff fix by the House as a "big bipartisan victory", immediately after pointing out that "the votes were about two-to-one Democratic in favor of the bill." Cordes also hyped how the bill is "a milestone, finally settling a decade-long debate over the Bush-era tax cuts," despite the fact the bill raises tax rates on top earners.
The correspondent also likened Congress to a teenaged student: "Well, if this was high school, you'd say they turned in the assignment a little bit late. It was kind of a rush job, but at least they got it done."
This is the eighth year I have done shopping and layoff-related searches on how often the words "Christmas" and "holiday" are used.
As has been the case since the enterprise began in 2005, news reports are far more likely to refer to the commercial time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas as the "holiday shopping season." Meanwhile, compared to shopping references, news reports are several times more likely to refer to Christmas in connection with layoffs. This years raw results -- originally gathered here, here, and here at my home blog, along with comparisons to previous years -- follow the jump:
Former Newsweek editor Evan Thomas made a bizarre statement on PBS's Inside Washington Friday.
"Unexplored story of the year: white men dropping out - dropping out of the workforce, dropping out of elections, just plain dropping out, getting social security, not doing anything, going hunting, fishing, just not in the game" (video follows with transcript and commentary, file photo):
Here’s something I bet you thought you’d never see at the perilously liberal Huffington Post.
In a Dean Baker article published Tuesday with the astonishing title “There Is No Santa Claus and Bill Clinton Was Not an Economic Savior,” the second sentence read, “Just as little kids have to come to grips with the fact that there is no Santa Claus, it is necessary for millions of liberals, including many who think of themselves as highly knowledgeable about economic matters, to realize that President Clinton's policies sent the economy seriously off course.”
Today's news from the Department of Labor on initial weekly unemployment claims was supposedly good -- as long as one doesn't scratch beneath the surface. Journalists used to do that. Today they didn't.
All one had to do is reach the third paragraph of DOL's release to realize that today's seasonally adjusted claims number of 343,000, touted as the lowest in two months in several news reports, was suspect. That paragraph told us that the 428,814 actual claims filed during the week ended December 8 were barely lower than the 435,863 claims seen in the week ended December 10, 2011, last year's comparable week; today's result only occurred because this year's seasonal adjustment factor was significantly different from last year's. I believe that this year-over-year drop of less than 2% in raw claims is the smallest weekly difference in a week not affect by storms or holidays this year. In other words, it really is news -- but not in the business press, which runs with the government's seasonally adjusted data and almost never looks any further. Examples follow the jump.
On Wednesday, CBS This Morning shipwrecked its aim to be the hard-news alternative to ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today. Its only coverage of the passage of the right-to-work law in Michigan was a clip of Comedy Central's Jon Stewart ripping the legislation. Anchors Charlie Rose and Norah O'Donnell laughed on air in reaction to Stewart's shtick, with O'Donnell adding, "That's pretty good."
The liberal Daily Show host poked fun of the "right-to-work" phrase as an Orwellian reversal of reality (audio available here; video below the jump):
Tuesday's CBS This Morning played up the union-led protests against a proposed right-to-work law in Michigan. Elaine Quijano claimed "the protests here in Michigan...[will] likely only get bigger." Quijano added that "they're planning to return today in record numbers - protesters determined to defend one of the biggest union strongholds in the country."
The correspondent loaded her report with six soundbites from the anti-right-to-work protesters and their supporters, including President Obama. Quijano only played two from proponents of the Michigan bill, including "reluctant supporter" Governor Rick Snyder.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Sunday gave Lawrence O'Donnell a much-needed education on the economic impact of the Bill Clinton tax hikes in the '90s.
As O'Donnell precipitated the exchange, he perfectly demonstrated why MSNBC commentators are far too liberally biased to be invited on NBC's Meet the Press (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its latest report on food stamp program participation through September today. I received the email alerting me to the release at 5:17 p.m., so it seems reasonable to believe that USDA and the Barack Obama administration wanted the new data to get as little attention as possible (as will be seen later, it's currently getting none). If so, they have two probable reasons for wishing to minimize its impact.
The first and more obvious of the two is that the food stamp rolls increased by over 607,000 in September to 47.71 million, yet another all-time record. That's awful enough, but here's the real kicker: the participation figure for July, the last month of data available before Election Day, was revised up by over 150,000, changing that month's reported increase from 11,600 to just under 166,000. As will be seen after the jump, no other month's data was revised except August, where the changes were infinitesimal.
C.L. Bryant, a former NAACP Texas president and current Baptist minister, told MSNBC's Thomas Roberts Thursday there's really no reason for black people to have voted for the re-election of Barack Obama other than the color of his skin.
Bryant said that due to the high Latino unemployment rate as well as the high poverty rate among young white women, the same was true for those demographic groups.
ABC News, which previously mocked the loss of 18,000 jobs at Hostess, now has concern for the unemployed, worrying about those who will lose benefits if a deal on the fiscal cliff cannot be found. Reporter Jon Karl on Wednesday's World News fretted, "Without a deal, unemployment compensation will end for more than two million people who've been out of work more than 26 weeks."
Karl highlighted the case of Melinda Vega, worrying about "her $450 a week unemployment check, her lifeline." However, ABC journalists were less concerned about unemployment when it didn't involve possible tax increases. On November 16, 2012, Good Morning America's co-anchors mocked the bankruptcy of Hostess, passing out Twinkies.
A report released Monday claimed employment for America's youth is at the lowest level it's been since World War II.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's study titled "Youth and Work: Restoring Teen and Young Adult Connections to Opportunity," "6.5 million people ages 16 to 24 are both out of school and out of work, statistics that suggest dire consequences for financial stability and employment prospects in that population."
Today, the Congressional Budget Office released a report informing readers that extending unemployment benefits for a year, an outlay which would cost the federal government $30 billion, would, because of its allegedly stimulative impact, generate 300,000 jobs.
Even if true, neither the CBO, nor the Associated Press in covering the report, noted that this result works out to a cost $100,000 per job. Bravely assuming that each new job created pays $40,000 per year, that's a $60,000 loss in value received compared to money spent. The government's tax take at all levels on that amount of earnings is likely about $10,000 or so. All of this is apparently considered pretty smart by the AP's Sam Hananel and a quoted leading Democrat:
In an interview with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley last week, Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein immediately brought up a highly sensitive subject that liberals in the media and highest levels of government refuse to acknowledge: entitlement spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are unsustainable at their current rate and need significant reform to ensure those programs exist in the future.
In response to the clip, MSNBC host Ed Schultz and Teamsters President James Hoffa were beside themselves on Tuesday night's Ed Show -- offended that Blankfein would voice such a "misinformed" view on national television. The only son of the notorious Jimmy Hoffa was ardently opposed to the idea that there is anything currently wrong with the system as is, to suggest otherwise is just "outrageous" he thundered. [ relevant video & transcript below ]
Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from office today. The timing of the Democratic congressman's resignation (even beyond it taking place on Thanksgiving Eve) is convenient, coming just two weeks after his reelection and prior to what in apparently an imminent indictment. The former enables Democratic Party kingpins in Chicago and its south suburbs to ensure that the seat stays with someone they like and can control (a general election situation with a preceding mini-primary might have been more problematic), while resigning before an indictment makes it likely that Jackson will be eligible for a congressional pension he might have lost had he still been in office when charged.
We are told that Jackson is too distraught to get through a publicly spoken resignation and that he cancelled a conference call with his staff. His resignation letter (original here; Washington Post transcription here) to House Speaker John Boehner, our best potential window to his current state of mind, reveals a man who is utterly full of himself and his wonderfulness. In the process of building this monument to himself, Jackson delivered several self-evident falsehoods the press would never let a Republican in a similar position get away with making without sharp criticism. Since it's a public document, the letter follows the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
This Thanksgiving, a record high of 42.2 million Americans will use food stamps to curtail the cost of a big meal. At a whopping expense of $72 billion to the taxpayer per year, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has grown by 70 percent since 2007, an increase of over 15 million more people.
Despite acknowledging all of this, Elizabeth Flock of US News & World Report declared "More Americans will use food stamps to buy their Thanksgiving dinner this year than ever before," and implied these government handouts aren't as sufficient as they could be.
Schlockumentary filmmaker Michael Moore had some straight talk for Barack Obama Monday.
In a letter to the President published at the perilously liberal Huffington Post, Moore advised Obama to "DRIVE THE RICH RIGHT OFF THEIR FISCAL CLIFF" while putting an end to "the s***ting on the poor."
On November 14, the Hill reported that "Senate Democrats, feeling confident from their net gain of two seats in last week’s election, say any deficit-reduction package negotiated in the coming weeks must include stimulus measures." Alexander Bolton's writeup quoted Senator Chuck Schumer publicly asserting that "We have to do something because the economy is not growing fast enough in the first year or two." Although Schumer was referring to 2013 and 2014, the "not growing fast enough" characterization fits the U.S. economy under President Barack Obama's and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's "stimulus"-oriented policies ever since the recession officially ended in June 2009.
The fact that Democrats insist on more so-called "pump-priming" after four years of trillion dollar-plus deficits accompanied by tepid growth, thereby increasing the chances that the deficit streak will hit five years or more, even with tax hikes, while growth remains anemic, is something one might consider to be, well, news. But apparently not at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, or the Politico.
Yesterday, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka may have broken a modern record for chutzpah exhibited by a labor leader Friday in criticizing management's decision at bankrupt snack maker Hostess Brands to liquidate in the wake of irreconcilable issues with its unions. In a Friday afternoon report at Politico, Kevin Cirilli not only let Trumka get away with it; he also lent the labor leader's contentions additional misleading support.
Trumka blamed the company's apparently imminent demise on "Bain-style Wall Street vultures." He wants everyone to believe that it's greedy, eeeevil Republican private-equity types who are on the brink of putting yet another company out of business. The "clever" framing of that quoted phrase appears to indicate that Trumka already knew better. It seems very likely that Cirilli also knew better. Three hours before the initial time stamp of Cirilli's report, Zero Hedge re-exposed the heavy involvement of D-D-D-Democrats in Hostess's management and advisors originally documented way back in july at CNNMoney by David Kaplan (additional paragraph breaks added by me; bolds are mine throughout this post):
Nuns on the Bus tour leader Sister Simone Campbell appeared on MSNBC's The Cycle on Thursday afternoon to discuss her ministry, which predictably led to her left-wing agenda becoming the focal point of the conversation. The only host to take issue with her talking points was token conservative S.E. Cupp, who was armed with facts and figures that the good sister could not rebut except by adamantly insisting they were "really wrong." That's when it started getting a little tense. [ video below, MP3 audio here ]
The cast of Good Morning America on Friday treated the bankruptcy of Hostess and the loss of 18,500 jobs as a hilarious joke. Josh Elliott, George Stephanopoulos and others guffawed as they handed out Twinkies and ate them on set. [See video below. MP3 audio here.] This is the same program that repeatedly spun Republican Mitt Romney as out of touch with the average American.
News anchor Josh Elliott highlighted the report for his final update of the 8am hour, a segment usually saved for humorous stories about puppies or funny videos. After referring to the mass firing as "troubling," the crew handed out treats. Elliott joked, "You know, I'm just going to save mine for 12 years when it will still be good." Co-host George Stephanopoulos mused, "So this is, like, one of our final Twinkies." Amy Robach mocked, "A toast to Twinkies."
In what was a transparent attempt to scrutinize how conservative a black actress can really be, the ladies of The View invited Stacey Dash on the program to substitute for Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Immediately following her summary of what was to come, Whoopi Goldberg inquired how Dash was doing after the vicious attacks she had endured on Twitter for simply endorsing Mitt Romney.
Without resorting to the same animosity, the liberal hostesses were seemingly just as incredulous. Why would someone like her -- a black woman who works in Hollywood -- vote for anyone but Obama? They made it their mission to find out, pushing her to explain herself. Perhaps they were too busy to read the 3-page essay that she posted online before the election. [video below, MP3 audio here]
CNBC’s Jim Cramer predicted a possible recession by Christmas if lawmakers didn’t step up and make some sort of deal in regards to the looming fiscal cliff. His prediction came during an Nov. 11 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We can gift wrap a recession by Christmas. We can set it right into place without some agreement,” Cramer told “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. He attributed that week’s stock market drop to that same lack of certainty.
The New York Times leaned "Forward!" for Barack Obama's reelection in its campaign coverage over the weekend. The front of the paper's Saturday Election 2012 section featured a large photo from an Obama rally of a volunteer handing out flags at a fairground rally in Hilliard, Ohio on Friday. The caption noted "A crowd of 2,800 showed up to see Mr. Obama."
Meanwhile, campaign reporter Ashley Parker estimated on Twitter Friday night that 25,000 people attended a Romney rally in West Chester Township in Ohio. But those strong turnout figures for Romney, which suggested high levels of enthusiasm in a crucial state, were buried in the very back of Parker and Michael Barbaro's Sunday story from the campaign trail.