Posted by Curt on 7 March, 2008 at 11:31 am. 13 comments already!

Isn’t it funny how the MSM chooses to highlight any negative economic report when it looks like they can use it to bash Bush and/or ensure they get a Socialist into office? When the economic reports were rosy you would have to dig and dig and dig to find any reporting on it, a few negative reports and every paper and news site across the globe pushes it to the front page:


The government reported today that the U.S. economy lost jobs in February for a second month running and at its fastest pace in five years, making it all the more certain that the nation is slipping into a recession.


“The world is coming to an end. Yes, you can quote me on that,” said David M. Jones, chief economist with Investors Security Trust in Fort Myers, Fla. “The payroll numbers were a surprising large drop, and just as important is the fact that we had a larger revised decline in January.”

“You almost never have back-to-back payroll declines without a recession,” he added.


The economy shed 63,000 jobs in February, the government said on Friday, the fastest falloff in five years and the strongest evidence yet that the nation is headed toward — or may already be in — a recession.


“I haven’t seen a job report this recessionary since the last recession,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “This is a picture of a labor market becoming clearly infected by the contagion from the rest of the economy.”


Employers slashed 63,000 jobs in February, the most in five years and the starkest sign yet that the country is heading dangerously toward recession or is in one already.


It was the first monthly back-to-back job losses since May and June 2003, when the job market was still struggling to recover from the blows of the 2001 recession.

The health of the nation’s job market is a critical factor shaping how the overall economy fares. If companies continue to cut back on hiring, that will spell more trouble.

“It certainly solidifies the notion that the economy has fallen into a recession,” said Ken Mayland, economist at ClearView Economics.

Baaaad times right?

Well, it all depends on how you spin it. And the key word the MSM wants to spin is “recession.” Noel Shepperd caught the AP spinning it big time:

In fact, the AP’s Jeannine Aversa actually fabricated data that went completely contrary to what was reported. Take a close look at paragraph two of Aversa’s article published at Yahoo at 9:39AM (emphasis added):

The Labor Department’s report, released Friday, also showed that the nation’s unemployment rate dipped to 4.8 percent as hundreds of thousands of people — perhaps discouraged by their prospects — left the civilian labor force.

Um, NO! Here’s what the Labor Department specifically said about this issue in its Employment Situation Summary released at 8:30AM (emphasis added):

About 1.6 million persons (not seasonally adjusted) were marginally attachedto the labor force in February. These individuals wanted and were available forwork and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 396,000 discouraged workers in February, about the same as a year earlier. Discouraged workers were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them. The other 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in February had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

See that phrase “about the same as a year earlier?” See anything about the number of discouraged workers increasing in February? Where did Aversa find such a claim by the Labor Department?

Tom Blumer dug even further into the AP’s spin machine:

  • First, how does she know that “employer slashes” and “cuts,” as opposed to retirements, voluntary departures, and other forms of attrition, are the sole cause of the job losses? Answer: She doesn’t, but the imagery of employers doing violence to workers, a staple of AP reporting in this area, is apparently irresistible.
  • Aversa’s minimization of the unemployment rate drop by attributing it to people leaving the workforce only works if you look at January. But, as seen in the core info above, the number of adults not in the labor force has gone up very little (+146,000).
  • Her “perhaps discouraged workers” theory is an easy one to puncture. In fact, it’s debunked in the text of the BLS report, which says that “Among the marginally attached, there were 396,000 discouraged workers in February, about the same as a year earlier.” I looked it up — February 2007’s discouraged worker count was 375,000. (Update: NB’s Noel Sheppard also noted that January 2008’s “discouraged worker” number was a lot higher [467,000] than February’s.)
  • She totally ignored the fact that the number of unemployed (i.e., the people we should be concerned about) dropped by almost 200,000 in February, and is now 284,000 (3.6%) lower than it was in December. That doesn’t exactly square with an economy Aversa says is “heading dangerously toward recession or is in one already.”

Every report out there just sidestepped the fact that the unemployment rate actually fell and keyed in on people were so “discouraged” they just stopped looking for work:

Despite the drop in payroll employment, the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%, from 4.9%.”

Would-be workers are also feeling more discouraged. Fewer Americans looked for work in February, and the size of the nation’s overall labor force declined. Those developments sent the unemployment rate down to 4.8 percent last month from 4.9 percent in January.”

The formal unemployment rate actually fell slightly, from 4.9 percent to 4.8 percent. However that statistic is influenced by how many people are actively seeking work, a number which declined by 450,000 over the last month as people exited the job market.”

What to make of all this? On the one hand we have disappearing jobs and on the other we have declining unemployment rate. So instead of doing an analysis like this from First Trust Advisors (h/t The Corner)

Today’s report on payrolls is disappointing but not nearly as bad as many are making it out to be. Reports on layoffs in February ran below the level of February 2007 and unemployment claims are not signaling recession. What we have is a temporary hiring freeze at many firms in response to fears of a recession, not the kind of layoffs that occur during actual recessions. In addition, the February number may have been influenced by heavy snow that covered much of the US, particularly in the Midwest, which contains much of our nation’s manufacturing sector. This was layered on top of another understandable 26,000 loss in home building jobs.

The overall decline in payrolls in February is the second straight monthly drop, which rarely happens outside recessions. However, this is the first business cycle in history when Baby Boomers have started to retire. Negative payrolls in the 1980s and 1990s would have been a very bad sign given trend payroll growth of 200,000+ per month. In a world with trend payroll growth near 100,000, payroll declines are less indicative of recession. Also, the recent weakening in the labor market resembles the acceleration of post-recession job losses in early 2003, as fears mounted about the war with Iraq. That weakening was temporary, and we expect recent weakness to be temporary too. We were glad to see the unemployment rate tick down to 4.8% and note that the measure of the unemployment rate that includes “discouraged workers” also ticked down.

We get analysis from the MSM that is all spin, all the time. A recession feeding frenzy brought on to give the Democrats some talking points:

“Today’s dismal jobs new should put to rest any doubts that our economy is in deep trouble. We have now seen two straight months of job loss, and the 63,000 decline in February is the worst since March of 2003. This troubling news comes at the end of a week where oil topped $104 a barrel and we learned that home foreclosures hit an all time high in the fourth quarter of 2007,” Clinton said in a statement.

As we ponder the “deep trouble” we’re in I have one question: when was the last time we had a recession with a 4.8% unemployment rate?

Another homework assignment….watch this:

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