January 9, 2012

AP’s Steve Peoples Hits Romney for Daring to Question Economy’s Health After Dec. Jobs Numbers

In an early-Sunday version of an Associated Press report which has since been revised to exclude the paragraph I’m about to cite, the wire service’s Steve Peoples (authorship shown here) apparently had a hard time understanding how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could possibly have criticized President Barack Obama’s economic stewardship in Saturday’s New Hampshire debate in light of what he (Peoples) must have thought were wondrous numbers in the government’s Friday employment report.

Even if you ignore the fact (which you really shouldn’t) that December’s reported 200,000 job additions after seasonal adjustment hid a mediocre actual performance on the ground in historical context, Peoples’ reaction was remarkably ignorant and offensively aggressive:

Three days before the first in-the-nation New Hampshire primary, Romney largely ignored his fellow Republicans and turned instead on President Barack Obama. “His policies have made the recession deeper and his policies have made the recovery more tepid,” he said, despite a declining unemployment rate and the creation of 200,000 jobs last month.

Steve-o, the “declining” unemployment rate is still higher than any level seen under any president since Ronald Reagan — and Reagan fixed that problem, without sending hordes of discouraged and disinterested potential workers to the sidelines. To say that the unemployment and under-employment problems under Barack Obama remain un-fixed is a huge understatement.

As to those 200,000 seasonally adjusted jobs (again, ignoring the figure’s overstatement due to calculation quirks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics):

  • Even before adjusting for population growth, the post-recession economy under Ronald Reagan added over 200,000 jobs during 23 of the first 30 months after the recession’s official end (November 1982). That included an above-200K streak of 17 months in a row, and a 30-month grand total of over 6.5 million jobs. A similar post-recession performance during the thirty months after the most recent recession officially ended in June 2009 would have required the addition of at least nine million jobs. Instead, since June 2009 the economy has added only 1.4 million jobs.
  • Employment in the post-recession economy under Reagan exceeded its June 1981 pre-recession peak of just under 91.6 million in November 1982, the twelfth month after the recession ended. Thirty months after the most recent recession’s official end, the economy’s seasonally adjusted workforce of 131.9 million is still 6.1 million jobs short of its January 2008 pre-recession peak of 138 million.
  • The 200,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added in December weren’t even that strong in recent context. Three other months in 2011 (February, April, and September) show greater seasonally adjusted job growth.

We’ll probably never know whether Steve People’s pathetic paragraph was revised out due to normal story updates or if it was removed because it was such a complete insult to readers’ intelligence. We do know that such a paragraph would never have been composed in the first place unless the reporter involved was either breathtakingly ignorant, determined to score a cheap political point against a GOP presidential candidate on behalf of his bosses at what has become the Administration’s Press — or both.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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