In his coverage of Friday morning's stellar jobs report, the Associated Press's Chris Rugaber came up with a couple of doozies aimed at curbing readers' enthusiasm. The AP economics writer half-expected that employers would rein in their hiring over confrontational rhetoric President Donald Trump and other foreign leaders have recently engaged in over trade and tariffs. He also implausibly framed the record-low black unemployment rate of 5.9 percent merely as evidence that employers are just now finally "taking chances" with potential workers "they had previously ignored."
On Tuesday, Julia Seymour at NewsBusters reported that the Friday evening news shows on all three networks spent a few seconds noting the government's somewhat disappointing but hardly alarming job-creation number for December (148,000 seasonally adjusted payroll jobs) reported earlier that day. Seymour observed that "Those same news programs (have) often underreported good economic news in the past year." Consistent with that pattern of selectivity, the three networks failed to note that Friday's job release reported the lowest black unemployment rate on record.
Two examples of poor press handling of what initially appeared to be fairly good news about initial unemployment claims last Thursday got lost in the pre-South Carolina primary hubbub.
The first and most obvious was in the writeup presented by the Associated Press's Chris Rugaber. In his fourth paragraph, he raised the threshold below which a consistent level of weekly claims might be expected to move the unemployment rate downward by 15% from where it was less than 2-1/2 years ago: