Lamar Smith Column: Media Spins Monthly Jobs Report

May 15th, 2012 1:15 PM

According to a Rasmussen Poll conducted last March, over 80 percent of likely U.S. voters see the economy as a “very important” issue going into this November.  A strong economy leads to a strong and prosperous country.  A good indicator of the strength of the economy is the number of jobs created.  Despite the national media’s attempt to spin the numbers, the jobs reports for the last two months have not been reassuring.

The president promised his stimulus plan would create millions of jobs and would bring the unemployment rate to under 8 percent.  Instead, nearly one million more Americans are out of work and the country has run up the three largest deficits in U.S. history.  Americans are forced to leave the workforce altogether due to scarcity of jobs.  The media seems to have amnesia when it comes to the president’s failed promises from his stimulus to his failed attempts to create so-called “green jobs” using taxpayers’ money.

When the recent negative monthly jobs report numbers became available, the national media was quick to come to their defense.  Not surprisingly, we have the usual suspects like MSNBC showing their bias immediately with Martin Bashir interviewing journalist and author William Cohan, who said this month’s data was a ‘pothole’ and that one month is less important than the trend.  Americans searching the “Jobs” section of the paper disagree.

When the numbers were “less than economists expected,” Bloomberg News claimed there is little difference between adding 120,000 and 220,000 jobs as “in a labor market of about 155 million, 100,000 is a rounding error.”  Time Magazine also spun the negative reports from the Department of Labor as being “statistical noise.”  The media’s downplaying of unemployment on behalf of the administration provides little comfort to the unemployed and underemployed.   

The national media has also downplayed the numbers to continue the narrative that the economy is moving along at a great pace. As an example, Best Buy announced that it was going to reduce its headquarters and close several of its stores. The national media did not want to discourage consumer confidence so it said that 400 employees would be laid off. However, after further analysis, the total amount of employees laid off would be closer to a thousand if not several thousand.   Another example, in April Yahoo announced it is laying off over 2,000 employees as they seek to reorganize and revamp under a new CEO. 

CNN Moneyreacted this month to the jobs report with the headline ‘hiring fizzles.’ The national media continually ignores the fact that over 522,000 adults have quit looking for work and are no longer counted in the unemployment numbers.  We hardly hear from the national media about Americans who have simply given up on the job search and therefore aren’t even counted in the unemployment numbers that the “mainstream” media reports. 

The media chooses selectively not to report on these individuals and the fact remains that young adults graduating from college are facing the worst job prospect in over 10 years.  The media often fails to mention that approximately 54 percent of the new graduates under 25 were jobless or underemployed last year.   Those who have had to give up their search without success and recent graduates would use a stronger word than “fizzles.”

The national media feeds the narrative with laughable statements like the economy is “gain[ing] steam” as the New York Times headlined.  The Associated Press used this method as well and headlined that the economy was on a “hiring surge.”  Once the numbers were not as strong, the AP attempted to spin the report and headlined “U.S. jobs market [took] a break after hiring binge.” 

Headlines like these provide misleading information about the current state of our economy to the American people.  Americans are concerned about the economy as many are unemployed or underemployed.  The national media owe it to the American public to provide objective coverage when discussing this and other issues.