Friday’s release of jobs figures, showing 227,000 added in February, underscores confusion in media when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the monthly compilation, noticed Grumpy Editor.
Print and especially broadcast media made in sound like there was a major turnaround in employment numbers, giving a hefty boost to the economy.
But played down, or completely omitted, in news reports were other figures in the same BLS news release.
Nonfarm payroll employment may have been up by 227,000, but quoting from the same news release:
+ “The number of unemployed persons, at 12.8 million, was essentially unchanged in February.” (The BLS news release’s first sentence mentioned “the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent.”)
+ “The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.4 million in February.”
Adding to the fuzzy mix was the insertion of an explanation by some writers. The Washington Post, for example, offered:
“Though the monthly unemployment rate remained unchanged in February at 8.3 percent, economists said that was the result of more people starting to look for work again as they became encouraged by the growing economy.”
While Grumpy Editor found the jobs report made front pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Oregonian and Philadelphia Inquirer, it did not get such treatment in others.
Putting the report on inside pages were the Denver Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Honolulu Star Advertiser, Des Moines Register, Baltimore Sun, Detroit News, (Cleveland) Plain Dealer down to Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star.