As 'Jobs Hard to Get Number' Hits 28-Year High, AP Claims Consumers' Related Feelings Are 'Mixed Bag'

September 27th, 2011 1:19 PM

The Conference Board's September Consumer Confidence Survey came out this morning. Overall, it rose very slightly from a miserable 45.2 to a still-miserable 45.4. Consumers' assessment of near-term prospects slid from 34.3 to in August to 32.5, while their longer-term outlook improved from 52.4 to 54.0.

At the Associated Press (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio characterized the element of the report relating to jobs thusly:

Consumers' feelings about jobs and wages also were a mixed bag. Those claiming jobs are "hard to get" increased to 50.0 percent, from 48.5 percent, while those stating jobs are "plentiful" increased to 5.5 percent from 4.8 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of consumers anticipating an increase in their incomes, declined to 13.3 percent from 14.3 percent.

D'Innocenzio's "mixed bag" is heavy on the bitter and awfully light on the sweet. Two of three items she cited moved unfavorably by one or more points, while the one favorable item still only represents only 1 in 18 surveyed.

But, as several other reports noted, including this one from Reuters in its very first sentence, the jobs element of the survey was really much worse in historical context (HT Zero Hedge; bolds are mine):

Consumer confidence was little changed in September amid concerns about income as a gauge of labor market conditions deteriorated to its worst since 1983, an independent survey showed on Tuesday.

... In a sign that people were struggling to find employment, the jobs-hard-to-get index rose to 50.0, the highest level since May 1983, from 48.5 the previous month.

Gosh Anne, even though you're not alone (as seen here at MarketWatch), how did you miss that? Bloomberg/BusinessWeek didn't. Fox Business didn't. The Financial Times didn't. You would think that the Essential Global New Network would have been ready for the possibility that this kind of dubious record might occur.

Ms. D'Innocenzio and the rest of the crew at AP still have a few hours to get this obviously newsworthy factoid into revised reports. If they don't, I'll submit that it's because they don't want news consumers to know.

Cross-posted at