For the past several months, the media has tried helping the White House spin unemployment numbers. Whenever initial jobless claims go down, media analysts hail it as a sure sign that the “recovery” is gaining strength. When initial claims rise, it’s an “unexpected” sign that the recovery may take a while longer to show some effects.
All of that is nonsense. The employment picture hasn’t changed much at all in the past six months despite all of the media spin. Initial jobless claims have been flat since the end of October, as this chart from Uncommon Misperceptions shows:
Actually, the trend line shows a slight average increase over that period. Prior to this, of course, the numbers had been far worse, peaking at over 700,000 initial claims per week. But that was an obvious disaster unfolding, one that had already started to abate before the first dollars of the Democratic stimulus package got spent.
UM calls the media treatment of this “their typical baby duck analysis”:
The data are oscillating about a slowly increasing value, indicating that, if anything, unemployment claims are increasing. That means that for the past 5 1/2 months, every time the administration has told us that the unemployment situation is slowly recovering, and that the data show “the right trend,” they have been absolutely mistaken.
The media has been doing their typical baby duck analysis: every day is a brand new day, every unemployment claims report is the first one they’ve ever seen. So we get headlines like, “job situation improving” when the number of claims drops, and “unexpected increase” when the number rises.
We’re not seeing any improvement at all after the loss of so many jobs in the crisis period. We’re seeing stagnation at high levels of unemployment, and despite a massive hiring binge at the Census Bureau, the numbers aren’t improving in the private sector at all. Maybe the media analysts should get their ducks in a row and start reporting on reality.
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