Lipstick on a Pig: AP Describes ADP's Job-Loss Decline as Better Than Expected

APabsolutelyPathetic0109The coverage yesterday by the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard of payroll and human resources giant ADP's monthly jobs report for November focused on a relatively small reduction in the size of the decline in jobs lost and not on the fact that continuing to lose jobs is a bad thing.

That rhetorical sleight of hand enabled the AP reporter to tell us that ADP's reported private sector job loss during the month of 169,000 -- down from 203,000 in October -- was actually good news, because even though it was a decline in the number of people working, the decline of the decline "was not as much as forecast." The forecast was for 160,000 jobs lost.

Readers of a previous version of this post will note that I allowed myself to believe that Bernard had erred when he did not. I apologize for not getting that right. And here I thought I would make it through the whole year without a mistake. :--> 

What follows is a graphic of the first few paragraphs of Bernard's report:

APonADPjobsReport120309

Having disposed of that confusion, let's move on to the incredible bar-lowering in the final excerpted paragraph. Since when is "stabilization in cuts" part of what "is considered vital to a strong economic recovery"? Since when is "stabilization in cuts" part of a recovery at all? If the cuts "stabilize" at 150,000 - 200,000 a month, will we really be "recovering"? That would be roughly 2 million jobs lost per year, and we still supposedly be in the process of a "recovery." I suppose they could "stabilize" at a higher number and still be okay by Bernard's definition.

Bernard's bobble could be excused as an isolated incident if other similar mistakes weren't so rampant in other AP business reports. But they are. Just off the top of the head, their journalists think that:

  • The national debt is the sum of Uncle Sam's reported annual deficits. We should be so lucky, but that's not the case.
  • That the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were major contributors to the $962 billion increase in the reported fiscal 2009 deficit vs. fiscal 2008. As seen here (go to Page 2 at link), the entire Defense Department's year-over-year spending increase of $42 billion was less than 5% of that total, so the wars themselves couldn't possibly have been a major factor in the overall year-over-year increase.
  • Seasonally adjusted job losses, which is what the government reports each month, represent real jobs lost in the real world. They don't. For example, job gains on the ground in October (subject to adjustment tomorrow) were 641,000:

    BLSnotSeasJobChanges2003to2007

    But because the reported on-the-ground gain was less than the gains in most previous years (the 2004-2007 average gain was a bit under 800,000), that led to a reported seasonally adjusted job loss of 190,000.

This level of ignorant and biased reporting from AP is why people are proactively seeking alternatives. As they should.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.