After telling the world on Thursday that "Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession," it seems that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber needed some help explaining away Friday's weak jobs report from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The AP had four reporters on Friday evening's coverage, all seemingly in search of a viable excuse for another "unexpectedly" disappointing report: Rugaber, co-author Paul Wiseman, and contributors Jonathan Fahey and Joyce Rosenberg in New York. Several paragraphs from their report follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
DIM LABOR REPORT SHOWS US ADDED JUST 88K JOBS
A streak of robust job growth came to a halt in March , signaling that U.S. employers may have grown cautious in a fragile economy.
The gain of 88,000 jobs  was the smallest in nine months.
... Friday's weak jobs report from the Labor Department caught analysts by surprise and served as a reminder that the economic recovery is still slow, nearly four years after the Great Recession ended. 
... Economists had no single explanation for why hiring weakened so sharply and broadly - from retailers and manufacturers to electronics and building materials companies. Some said deep government spending cuts that began taking effect March 1 might have contributed to the slowdown, along with higher Social Security taxes.  Others raised the possibility that last month was just a pause  in an improving job market.
Whatever the reasons, slower job growth will extend the Federal Reserve's policy of keeping borrowing costs at record lows. 
March's job gain was less than half the average of 196,000 jobs in the previous six months, raising the prospect that for the fourth straight spring, the economy and hiring could show strength early in the year, only to weaken later. Some economists say weak hiring may persist into summer before rebounding by fall. 
... Longer-term trends have helped keep the participation rate down. The baby boomers have begun to retire. The share of men 20 and older in the labor force has dropped as manufacturing has shrunk. 
... An intensifying European financial crisis depressed hiring in 2010. Japan's earthquake and tsunami also disrupted U.S. manufacturing in 2011. Last year, an unusually warm winter caused employers to do more hiring early in the year, cutting into hiring that normally happens in spring. 
 -- This "robust job growth" refers to the past four months, which, looking at the raw (not seasonally adjusted) figures after revisions, were no better than the same four months a year earlier. 1.521 million jobs were lost from November 2011 through February 2012. From November 2012 through February 2013, the loss was 1.515 million.
 -- There is no defensible excuse for not describing the result as "seasonally adjusted." The term is not in the report. The average reader will assume that 88,000 jobs were actually added. The fact is that BLS believes 759,000 were added. The problem is, that's the worst March result since the recession officially ended, worse than 2012 (901,000), 2011 (907,000), and even 2010 (835,000).
 -- This would have been the perfect opportunity to tell readers that this is by far the worst "recovery" since World War II. But of course not.
 -- Excuses, excuses. The reason AP had to be so vague ("some said") about the "deep government spending cuts" copout is that almost no one outside the government or who isn't an Obama administration alum agrees that the "cuts," which are really reductions in projected spending growth, contributed to yesterday's pathetic results. As to taxes, it's interesting that the tax increases on upper-income Americans resulting from the fiscal cliff deal and as a result of ObamaCare weren't mentioned.
 -- Economies don't "pause" without a reason.
 -- Sure, let's keep covering the government's deficits and applying artificial stimulus. That has done so much for economic growth since the recession -- not.
 -- Sure, it will only be for a few months, and things will get better after that indefinitely. Just like the past three years -- not.
 -- Seriously, why should the decline of manufacturing automatically lead to reduced male employment? It's as if this is the only sector in which men can work. Really?
 -- The three items cited were not major factors in the years involved. The 2012 excuse about the warm winter is a real howler. None of these events would have held back a sufficiently robust economy properly driven by appropriate public policy.
So the economy went from recession-proof to "fragile" in a day. Amazing. This should be professionally embarrassing. Is it, Chris? Do you even care?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.