There is happy-talk and then there is delusion. The Associated Press has just approached the delusional stage with its recent assessment of what the unemployment numbers mean. Absurdly, the AP seems to imagine that the continued job losses under Obama means that job hunters are experiencing "raising hopes"! It's like sitting on the Titanic pleased that taking on water raises hopes that a nice, relaxing bath is will soon be at hand.
The first paragraph of the story claims that since last month saw a few less layoffs, why, that is saying that what we have here is "the brightest hope yet that an economic recovery" will take hold later this year. What does the AP offer as proof? Not a whole lot, sadly. In fact, the very next paragraph sort of torpedoes the first. After this "brightest hope" business, the AP gives us this:
But with companies still reluctant to hire, the nation's jobless rate rose to a quarter-century high of 9.4 percent, and it likely will keep rising into 2010, possibly within striking distance of its post-World War II peak of 10.8 percent.
How we can have a "brightest hope yet" for recovery yet still see unemployment continue to rise is anyone's guess, but in the AP's infinite wisdom there you have it.
Over and over this report goes from one paragraph saying that the jobs outlook is dismal and new hires will not see an uptick to the next saying that there is a "light at the end of the tunnel."
Then we get this sort of nonsensical claim:
Hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps feeling more confident about their job prospects, streamed back into the labor force last month looking for work. That was a factor in the jobless rate's rise, economists said.
"Perhaps feeling more confident"? Based on what? Job loss continues, unemployment is still on the rise, and "experts" were quoted as saying the economy will remain soft on into 2011. So, what is this "confidence" and "hope" all based on? Unfortunately, it's mere happy talk and not any real stats.
Now, don't get me wrong, I really am hoping that a recovery is near. In fact, looking over American history, it is likely that one is near, though how near no one knows. But it will come, certainly. Naturally, I am no more hoping for a lack of a recovery than anyone else.
But, this AP report is paper thin and filled with nonsense. All the hard facts in the story point to the fact that no recovery is near, but it is all offset with mere happy talk based on nothing. This piece is a real whipsaw from dismal stats to "brightest hope" from one paragraph to the next. It really is one amazing piece.
Finally, I'd like to highlight one last paragraph.
Solis and some economists credited the stimulus with helping to reduce layoffs in May. But other analysts said the benefits of the stimulus wouldn't really kick in until later this year or more likely next year.
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is dissembling to say the least. The "stimulus" has not really gotten to the economy at all as of yet. Most of the funds won't reach the states until 2010. As the Tax Policy Center said at the end of April:
A new Government Accountability Office study says it will take time for stimulus funds to reach states and local governments. Less than 20 percent of the $270 billion intended to prop up state spending will go out this fiscal year and more than 40 percent won’t arrive until after fiscal 2010.
And for the stimulus money that has been distributed to the states, much of it is still in state capitols awaiting state politicians to decide what to do with it all. At the same time, some haven't even gotten theirs yet due to political wrangling.
So, for the administration to say that government stimulus money has helped anything, well that is little but baseless posturing. But it fits this AP report pretty well because this economics piece emulates that baseless posturing quite well, actually. What ever the AP was trying to do, it doesn’t seem like “news” was the goal.