Nobody Makes Lemonade into Lemons Better Than AP's Business Reporters

An unbylined report on unemployment claims by the Associated Press is a classic of the genre (bold is mine):

The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless claims dropped by 26,000 to 299,000 last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. It marked the first time jobless claims have fallen below 300,000 since the week of July 22.

The improvement was much better than the decline of 9,000 that analysts had been expecting and provided further evidence that the slowing U.S. economy has not begun to seriously affect the labor market outside of specific industries such as housing and auto manufacturing.

SLOWING? Did AP ever consider that maybe claims are dropping because the economy may NOT be slowing?

It's not like there is a lack of evidence of continued and probably accelerating growth:

  • The manufacturing sector (14% of the economy) returned to expansion mode in December after one month of minimal contraction in November.
  • The services sector (86% of the economy) maintained its strong expansion posture in December.
  • 167,000 new jobs were added last month (cited in the article), and 29,000 more were added during the two previous months than originally estimated, according to the Labor Department's Establishment Survey (the official measurement of employment growth),
  • The unemployment rate remained at 4.5%.
  • The Household Survey (officially used for calculating the unemployment rate only) has shown an explosive growth in the number of people working -- almost 1.6 million in the last five months (you read that right).
  • December retail sales, framed as "disappointing," still came in with an increase of 4.5% -- well above inflation. That 4.5% figure does not pick up the 26% increase in November 1 through Decemeber 20 online sales.

AP and others will probably stay in their "slowing economy" meme until the 4th quarter GDP report is released in late January. This Reuters article from yesterday that should have been known to AP cites a current consensus that the fourth-quarter result will come in at 2.3% (fifth paragraph). Anything above the third quarter's final number of 2.0% will prove that the formerly Mainstream Media's meme has been wrong all along -- but don't expect acknowledgment of that.

Cross-posted at

Economy Unemployment Wire Services/Media Companies Associated Press Reuters