The U.S. created 155,000 jobs in November. Although it was lower than forecasts the number was “not bad.” In fact, it’s still more jobs than are needed to keep up with population growth and drive down the already low unemployment rate. But that’s not how the networks covered it.
Actually, CBS Evening News ignored the Dec. 7, report entirely that night. NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt blamed the “rough and troubling day” for the markets on the “weaker than expected jobs report” and trade fears.
NBC’s barely-there mention of the report was tucked inside a 1-minute 14-second report on the stock market coverage. Although the nation’s unemployment rate held at the lowest rate since 1969 — 3.7 percent, Holt and correspondent Tom Costello failed to actually report those numbers.
Meanwhile, ABC World News Tonight mentioned the report in seven seconds in the midst of its 1 minute 51-second pessimistic story about the “market meltdown.”
Anchor David Muir introduced the economic news saying, “Fueling new concerns just today, the jobs report. 155,000 new jobs in November, but that was slightly lower than they expected.”
Soon ABC’s emphasis was back on the “ugly end to a wild week” on Wall Street.
Other outlets did a much better job of covering the latest jobs report and keeping it in perspective. MarketWatch called it a “plain vanilla” report and even PBS NewsHour said slower hiring “shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.”
NewsHour reported that “economists have anticipated a slowdown in hiring because fewer workers are available with such a low unemployment rate” and found economists unfazed by the latest report.
American Enterprise Institute policy analyst James Pethokoukis also pointed out that even with the “lighter-than-forecasted 155,000 jobs” the three-month average gains were 170,000 a month. Citing Barclays he noted that was roughly twice what is needed to “absorb growth in the labor force and push the unemployment rate lower over time.”
Digging into the data Pethokoukis also found “strong wage gains for the least-skilled workers.”
MarketWatch made a similar point about the number of job gains needed in the current economy saying, “Just how bad would it be if the economy only added about 150,000 new jobs a month? Not bad. Not bad at all.”