February 2, 2013

Despite Unemployment Rate Increase, AP’s Rugaber Describes Friday’s Jobs Report as ‘Mostly Encouraging’

Yesterday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, Christopher Rugaber really wrote that the government’s Employment Situation Summary released Friday was “mostly encouraging.”

The Friday morning dispatch, still present at Yahoo News but which has understandably disappeared from the wire service’s national site, stuck with his smiley-faced description even as he noted, “one negative sign: The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent.” If January’s performance repeats itself for the rest of year, 1.9 million more people will have found work in 2013 and the unemployment rate will be 9 percent — at which point it would appear that Chris will try to tell us that we’ve finally achieved heaven on earth. Excerpts from Rugaber’s ridiculous rubbish, riddled as it is with errors, omissions, a blatant coverage inconsistency, and political hackery, follow the jump:

US gains 157K jobs; jobless rate rises to 7.9 pct.

The U.S. job market is proving sturdier than expected at a time when the economy is under pressure from Washington gridlock and the threat of government spending cuts. [1]

Employers added 157,000 jobs in January, and hiring was much stronger at the end of last year than the government had previously estimated.

The Labor Department’s estimated job gains for the final two months of 2012 — a period when the economy was being threatened by the fiscal cliff — rose from 161,000 to 247,000 for November and from 155,000 to 196,000 for December.

The mostly encouraging jobs report Friday included one negative sign: The unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in December. [2] The rate is calculated from a survey of households, and more people in that survey said they were unemployed.

The monthly job gains are derived from a separate survey of employers.

The hiring picture over the past two years also looked stronger after the department’s annual revisions. The revisions showed that employers added an average of roughly 180,000 jobs a month in 2012 and 2011. [3] That was up from previous estimates of about 150,000.

… Manufacturing expanded at a much faster pace in January compared with December, a private survey found. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all reported double-digit sales gains for January. [4] And construction spending rose in December at a healthy pace.

The employment report revealed a notable shift in the job market: More hiring by construction companies. [5]


[1] — (political hackery) The establishment press’s current political mission appears to be to convince low-information voters that any economic hiccough this year will be entirely due to those Republican and conservative meanies in the House. We’re supposed to believe that if the economy sputters, it won’t have anything to do with the ten things (out of at least a potential couple of dozen) I identified in a recent column at my home blog, not the least of which is the war on fossil fuels, which appears to be on track to help raise gas prices to $4 per gallon in California and elsewhere. Horse manure.

[2] — (omission) In addition, to debunking the “mostly encouraging” claim (quickly revised away at AP’s national site, possibly because Matt Drudge almost immediately ridiculed it), this would have been an ideal opportunity to take note of a ridiculous gaffe over at the Department of Labor, whose Bureau of Labor Statistics issued yesterday’s report. In his press release containing the usual Obama administration “Our recovery from the Great Recession continues” pablum, acting DOL head Seth D. Harris claimed that “the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.9 percent.” Uh, no, Seth; it went up. I don’t think Chris and the rest of the press would have missed the opportunity to get in a dig at a DOL official who made such an obviously wrong assertion in a Republican or conservative administration.

[3] — (blatant coverage inconsistency) It’s more than a little interesting that AP was able to notice the upward comprehensive revision of 422,000 jobs announced yesterday, because as I noted back in 2007, the establishment press, including AP, “somehow” almost completely ignored news of an upward revision which was more than twice as large (900,000!) the government noted in its report on January 2007. AP characterized that report, which showed the unemployment rate rising from 4.5 percent to 4.6 percent, as “lackluster,” and did not mention the comprehensive upward revision. Oh, to be so “lackluster” again.

[4] — (omission, and error by omission) It’s more than a little odd that Rugaber only cited GM’s, Ford’s, and Chrysler’s improvements, given that Toyota reported a larger year-over-year increase (26%) than the others (16%, 22%, and 16%, respectively). Toyota makes most of its cars for the U.S. market in the U.S., Chris, and, by some measurements, its cars have more U.S. content than Detroit’s so-called Big Three — three out of the top 10 in a survey reported at cars.com in June 2012. In that survey, Toyota and Honda together took four of the top five spots, and five of the top seven.

[5] — (error) Construction companies did not — repeat, did not — add 28,000 more workers in January. They reduced employment by 272,000. I’m not kidding. This is relevant, because Rugaber “somehow” forgot to included two very necessary words in his report. I will discuss that matter in another post later today.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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