Headlines: Jobless Claims Plunge, Dive, Plummet, and Decline Sharply. But Did They?

The day before Thanksgiving brought encouraging news on unemployment.  CBS News.com reported "New Jobless Claims Plunge to 466K."  Investors.com headlined "Jobless Claims Dive To 466,000."  CNN Money.com issued a special report titled "Jobless claims plummet to 14-month low."  And the Financial Times included a link to the Calculated Risk blog article "Weekly Initial Unemployment Claims Decline Sharply."  

Such good news, reported widely throughout the media, doubtless gave hope to many Americans.  If some of them wished to attribute this dramatic turnaround to Barack Obama's stimulus program, so much the better.  The truth, however, is that improvement in the number of jobless claims was less than electrifying.  The numbers touted in the media are, according to the Department of Labor, "seasonally adjusted" with a statistical technique designed to accommodate fluctuations in the job market.  Set that aside, and the numbers are not nearly as rosy.  As DOL's Employment and Training Administration reported:
The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 543,926 in the week ending Nov. 21, an increase of 68,080 from the previous week.
Only CBS News.com, in its Associated Press article noted: "Excluding seasonal adjustments, claims rose."  And that was in the fifth paragraph.

Back when George Bush was president, CNN Money.com had no difficulty detailing the difference between the actual number of jobless claims and the massaged number in its article, "Jobless claims drop, but... Report shows sharp drop in those filing for benefits, but seasonal factors distort results."

In the Age of Obama, highlighting such information isn't necessary.  No use confusing the public with those dry old facts when such hope and change are breaking out all over.  At least in the mainstream media.  

Economy Unemployment Associated Press CBS online Financial Times

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