December 3, 2009

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:


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:


    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



  1. I am usually with you on AP reporting bias but I think you miss the mark here. He doesn’t say “job cuts were not as much as forcasted.” He says the “job cuts DECLINE was not as much as forcasted.” Is this not accurate?

    Comment by Pete Huske — December 3, 2009 @ 3:46 pm

  2. Just wanted to correct your post…don’t know if someone has already pointed this out. But the guy’s saying the DECLINE in job cuts was not as much as expected. You’re post is written as though he said just the job cuts were not as much as expected…

    Just want to be accurate…

    Comment by Phocion — December 3, 2009 @ 4:16 pm

  3. #1 and #2, jobs declined by 169,000 per ADP. The forecast was for 160,000. The decline was greater than what was forecasted, not less. The first paragraph says the opposite.

    In para 1 he said based on actual info supplied in para 3 that 169,000 is less than 160,000.

    What am I missing?

    UPDATE: Just figured it out. Content has been changed accordingly. Thanks for the catch.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 3, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

  4. Warner brings up an interesting point:

    The job losses during this recession have been many times the levels of the previous recessions. 1980 with 1 million jobs lost; 1982 with 2.8 million; 1990 with 1.5 million; 2001 with 2.7 million. Finally Farr notes that we’ve seen a whopping 7.3 million lost thus far (and climbing) in this 2008-2009-2010 recession.

    Using his numbers this current recession has put more people out of work than all the recessions from 1982 to 2001 combined! If another 700k loose their jobs it will be as much as all recessions combined since 1980.

    It is rather hopeful that comparing the Sept and Oct #s from 2009 to 2008, that seasonal hiring has doubled this year. However, history says any gains in these two months will be wiped out by end of next January.

    If the liberals were willing to swallow their pride, they would drop the cap & trade under the cover of the current scandal and drop the 2000+ page health care meddling bill as they have rigged it to so something more reasonable which 80% can agree upon. A good starting point would be eliminating the pre-existing condition exclusion by the individual paying for past breaks in insurance coverage during the period the condition existed. The second would be privatize Medicare to end the billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse they so love to talk about.

    Comment by dscott — December 3, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  5. The actual wording of this article says that job cuts declined for the eighth month in a row, but not as much as expected. Meaning, the number of jobs being lost every month decreased from last month (from, say 200,000 to 169,000), but not as much as they had predicted (say, from 200,000 to 160,000). There is nothing inaccurate in this article.

    Comment by yahoo — December 3, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

  6. #5, Content has been changed accordingly. Sorry for the bombast. Thanks for the catch.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 3, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

  7. yallll forget, One of ADP’s origional founder’s, and one of the biggest stockholders isssssssss???? U.S Sen Frank “Torchies’ Boy” Lautenbergh, Dem from NJ. NJ is not corrupt, nauuuuu. Do you think ADP would cook the books? What do you think, they are CRU?

    Comment by Lenny — December 3, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  8. [...] Cross-posted at [...]

    Pingback by Lipstick on a Pig: AP Describes ADP’s Job-Loss Decline as Better Than Expected — December 4, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

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