by Joseph Vazquez
Viewers watching the ABC, CBS or NBC networks since Feb. 1 likely didn’t hear anything about a rising index indicating that Americans are worse off under President Joe Biden.
Issues & Insights released a report on the misery index, a measure started under President Lyndon Johnson that combines the unemployment rate and the inflation rate. The idea is that “joblessness and a fast-rising cost of living produces palpable misery in the country.”
The measure spiked at “the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns, jumping from 5.94 to over 15 in one month with the surge in unemployment,” Issues & Insights said. However, “it quickly dissipated, as the economy under [former President Donald] Trump rebounded faster than the so-called experts had predicted.” By the end of Trump’s term, “the misery index was back down to 7.7.”
But a “funny thing has happened since,” according to Issues & Insights. The misery index “climbed each and every month that Joe Biden has been president.” The misery index hit 11.3 in June, “higher than it has been (pre-pandemic) since the Great Recession. It’s also higher than the post-World War II average of 9.2,” according to Issues & Insights.
A Nexis search conducted by MRC Business found that the rising misery index received no coverage from ABC, CBS and NBC from Feb. 1 to July 16. There’s perhaps a nefarious political reason for the networks tossing the index under the proverbial rug. Under Trump, the average for the index between January 2017 and December 2020 was 6.9, “the third-lowest of any postwar president,” Issues & Insights said. On the other hand, under just a few months of Biden’s administration, the average for the index is 9.05, 2.15 points higher than Trump’s average for his entire term. [Emphasis added.]
Issues & Insights broke down the misery index spike under Biden: “In February, it ticked up to 7.9, then rose to 8.6 in March.” It continued: “Last month, the misery index hit 11.3, as the monthly inflation rate climbed to 5.4% while the unemployment rate edged up to 5.9%.”