August 4, 2012

What Unemployment Rate Increase? Three Headline Writers Avoid Friday’s Reported Uptick; AP Scrubs Original Reference

The wire services and other establishment press members appear to be getting more selective in what they will allow into their headlines, particularly omitting items which might hurt Dear Leader.

Take the coverage of yesterday’s Employment Situation Summary from the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The news was a combination of bad and mediocre (though expectations-beating): The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased from 8.2% to 8.3% (or from 8.217% to 8.254%, if you’re Obama administration hack Alan Krueger), while the seasonally adjusted number of jobs added was 163,000. Both results are really unacceptable when there’s so much not utilized and underutilized labor. Three establishment press headlines avoided mentioning the rate increase, even though it was a major element of the underlying stories:

At the Associated Press Friday evening, via Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman –

Headline: “Economy Generates 163K Jobs in Sign of Resilience”

Second sentence, second paragraph: “But the surprising gains weren’t enough to drive down the unemployment rate, which ticked up to 8.3 percent last month from 8.2 percent in June – the 42nd straight month the jobless rate has exceeded 8 percent.”

(Note: The very first headline from AP a half-hour after the report’s official release, before the spinmeisters started taking control, was “US unemployment rate rises to 8.3 percent; jobs up.” That’s why the wire service is accurately tagged “the Administration’s Press.”)

Guardian/UK, via Dominic Rushe —

Headline: “US economy added 163,000 jobs in July as Obama handed major election boost”

Subheadline: “Nonfarm payroll figures are the highest in five months but were not enough to bring down 8.3% unemployment rate” (really “not enough to keep the rate from going up” — Ed.)

Content item 1: “While the number was far better than expected it was not enough to bring down the unemployment rate, which edged up to 8.3%.”

Content item 2: “The labor market has slowed sharply after strong gains of over 200,000 a month in the winter, spelling trouble for Obama ahead of the November 6 election.”

Reuters, via Lucia Mutikani —

First sentence: “U.S. employers in July hired the most workers in five months, but an increase in the jobless rate to 8.3 per cent kept prospects of further monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve on the table.”

Since Krueger, who as an economist is supposed to know things about statistical precision but is pretending not to, wants to quibble over rounding, July’s unemployment rate result represents the third straight increase — from 8.098% in April to 8.206% in May to 8.217% in June to 8.254% in July.

The above tells us why readers need to look past headlines — sometimes deep into content — to get at whatever grams of truth might be there. Sadly, that usually won’t happen — and the headline writers, who don’t seem to be anywhere near as selective in scrubbing negativity from headlines relating to conservative or Republican administrations, know it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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3 Comments

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