ABC: 'Drop in the Unemployment Rate is Bad News'

ABC's "World News Tonight" had a hard time on Friday without normal anchor Charles Gibson, as in its segment about the employment numbers released by the Labor Department, guest host George Stephanopoulos said the figures were from January 2008.

This was stated as a graphic came on the screen reading "JOBS LOST, January 2008, 63,000." Of course, Labor's report was for the month of February.

Sadly, that wasn't the only mistake "World News" made concerning this crucial piece of economic data, for just as the Associated Press had done earlier in the day, ABC's Business Correspondent Betsy Stark claimed (video available here, h/t NBer Gary Hall):

Even the drop in the unemployment rate is bad news. Economists say it's a sign that many job seekers are now so discouraged, they've given up the hunt.

What economists, Betsy? Can you name some?

In fact, she didn't interview any economists on air that made such statements. Instead, she talked to an out of work light fixture salesman from Indiana who declared, "This is the worst job market that I've ever encountered."

Imagine that. He's 45, which means that he was of working age during four previous recessions, and this is the worst job market he's encountered? With a current unemployment rate of 4.8 percent versus 10.8 percent in December 1982? Or 7.8 percent in June 1992? This is the worst?

Yet, Stark wasn't done misrepresenting this economic report:

In fact, 450,000 Americans simply gave up trying to find work last month.

Unbelievable nonsense. As NewsBusters reported Friday, the number of people not in the workforce due to discouragement over job prospects DECLINED by 71,000 in February. It DID NOT increase thereby making Stark's claim 100 percent false.

The fact is that the number of Americans in the workforce did decline by 450,000 in February. However, it is still higher than what it was nine months last year, including prior to the surfacing of the subprime mortgage and the credit crisis.

Maybe more important, what folks like Stark are misrepresenting is that the number of people not in the labor force grows nearly every month, and has grown nearly every year since 1980.

Think about it: what's the main reason why people leave the workforce? Retirement. And, as the fastest growing segment of our population are indeed senior citizens, the velocity in the growth of those out of the workforce has accelerated every decade.

But, there are other reasons that people leave the workforce like deciding to stay home with kids, or going back to college, reasons that folks like Stark and Stephanopoulos never want to address when it goes counter to their point.

Want some more proof media members like Stark and Stephanopoulos are all wet on this issue? The number of people not in the workforce but wanting a job now declined by 288,000 in February.

If people were leaving the workforce because they were discouraged about their job prospects, shouldn't the number of people out of the workforce and wanting a job now have increased?

Of course it should, but people like Stark and Stephanopoulos aren't interested in the facts in this report. That would make it difficult to advance their agenda.

In fact, I doubt Stark, Stephanopoulos, and the good folks at ABC News even bothered reading this report. After all, they couldn't even get the month it was addressing right, could they?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.