Los Angeles Times, Others Discount A Lower Unemployment Rate

Yesterday (Friday November 4, 2005), the Labor Department announced that the national unemployment rate dropped from 5.1% to 5.0%.

Good news, right? Well, some media outlets did not seem to think so.

In the 3pm PST news updates on ABC News radio and CBS News radio on Friday, anchors made the employment picture sound dim. They highlighted that the net job gain in October of 56,000 jobs was "not as many as expected." Although CBS News tagged their story with the fact that the unemployment rate had dropped, ABC News radio made no mention of this at all!

The Los Angeles Times followed suit today (Saturday November 5, 2005). The (very) bold headline on the front page of their Business section blares the negative, "Job Report Falls Short of Forecasts." You have to go well below the fold to learn of the drop in the unemployment rate.

And despite the gloomy tone of the headline, the Times admitted several positive notes in the employment picture.

"Many analysts said the job market and economy were in much better shape than the latest report suggested.

"And workers could take heart in a surprisingly strong 0.5% increase in average hourly earnings, up 8 cents to $16.27. That was the biggest monthly gain since February 2003, prompting some analysts to suggest that wages may finally start growing more robustly after years of failing to keep pace with inflation ...

"With the exception of airlines and automakers, 'American businesses are in great financial shape…. In January and February they will be out hiring aggressively again,' [Mark] Zandi, [chief economist at research firm Economy.com] said, suggesting that there will be a return to the average gain of nearly 200,000 jobs a month earlier this year.

"Another bright spot: The manufacturing sector added a net 12,000 jobs, reversing recent declines."

Is is too much to ask for a more fair headline?

Unemployment Los Angeles Times