At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Martin Crutsinger's treatment of the February employment report released on Friday was pretty much the slavering soliloquy one would have expected.
Crutsinger described the past four months as a "hiring spree," and the job market as "accelerating." Even sticking with the seasonally adjusted figures, that doesn't stand up well, given that there was a big revised dip in job additions in January. Second, he contended that "Hiring would be rising even faster if governments weren't shrinking their workforces, as they have been for nearly four years" -- as if government hiring and the higher taxes which would accompany it at the state and local levels or the higher amount of deficit financing required at the federal level would have no effect on private employers' rate of hiring. And no establishment press report would be complete without moaning about how goverment employment continues to contract ever so slightly and how impending spending "cuts" which aren't cuts at all threaten the current wondrous conditions. That's not all, of course.
Here are some excerpts from Crutstinger's report (bolds are mine):
JOB GAINS CUT UNEMPLOYMENT TO 7.7 PCT., 4-YEAR LOW
The American job market isn't just growing. It's accelerating.
Employers added 236,000 jobs in February and drove down the unemployment rate to 7.7 percent, its lowest level in more than four years. The gains signal that companies are confident enough in the economy to intensify hiring even in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts.
Last month capped a fourth-month hiring spree in which employers have added an average of 205,000 jobs a month. The hiring has been fueled by steady improvement in housing, auto sales, manufacturing and corporate profits, along with record-low borrowing rates.
Before the spree, employers added an average of 154,000 jobs from July through October and only 108,000 from April through June.
"The recovery is gathering momentum," Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to clients.
... Hiring would be rising even faster if governments weren't shrinking their workforces, as they have been for nearly four years. Governments cut 10,000 jobs in February.
All right, that's all I can stand.
The past four months have seen seasonally adjusted job additions of 247,000, 229,000, 119,000 and 236,000. That's three out of four decent months, with a huge dip in Month 3 -- before considering one huge qualifying factor, namely the high percentage of jobs going to part-timers and temps, something Crutsinger should have mentioned but of course didn't.
As usual, Crutsinger did not identify any figure as seasonally adjusted. Because that's the case, it's more than fair to look at the raw numbers and what they might mean. They tell that employment is really 1.638 million below where ts was at the end of October:
Though actual employment typically falls substantially during these four months, as seen above, total employment during the past four supposedly heavenly months has fallen by more than the 1.521 million net jobs actually lost during the same four months a year ago. And although this February's actual job pickup of 959,000 is the best result in a long time, each of the past two years has seen job growth decelerate as the impact of rising gas prices has kicked in. This year, we have the impact of this year's payroll tax increase (or, if you will, expiration of its two-year, two-point reduction) to consider.
Accelerating, accschmelerating, Marty. Come back with better results during each of the next three months, and there might be something to your claim. As of now, there isn't.
As to government employment, the problem is that it continued to grow until May 2010, or through almost the entire recession. That's almost 1-1/2 years after private sector employment peaked. A continued pullback to sane levels after that unreasonable growth should be that surprising. It's actually necessary -- and unfortunately, it's only happening at the state and local levels. Seasonally adjusted federal employment excluding the Postal Service has grown by over 200,000 in the past five years, after growing by only 19,000 during the five years before that.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.