When It Comes to Jobless Figures Dishonesty and Propaganda Reign
Once again we got a cheery report from most of the media about employers hiring, albeit “not enough,” and about the jobless rate falling, albeit “it’s still too high.”
The proximate cause of this latest round of propaganda from the corporate media is the latest monthly jobless figure reported out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which said that employers had added 80,000 net new jobs (actually they found that private sector employers had added 104,000 jobs while public agency employers had pink-slipped 24,000 people), and that the official unemployment rate was 9.0 percent, just a notch lower than last month’s 9.1 percent figure.
The Associated Press, which is now the de facto national desk for the eviscerated national newsmedia, trumpeted these anemic results with a headline reading: Employers add 80K jobs, Rate dips to 9.0 pct. This was followed by an upbeat lead, credited to AP Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber (who surely should know better if he’s an economics specialist) that read: “WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. jobs crisis may be easing slightly on the strength of a fourth straight month of modest hiring and a dip in the unemployment rate.”
Only it’s not that simple. For one thing, economists agree that the economy would have to be adding 100,000 jobs a month just to keep up with the number of people who are entering the labor force, and double that to make any real progress towards lowering the jobless number, so 80,000 jobs is really going backwards. For another, most of the jobs being created are low-paying and often temporary, which is not going to do much if anything to boost consumer spending, which accounts for almost three-quarters of Gross Domestic Product in the hollowed-out US economy. (In fairness to Rugaber, a day later he wrote a better, less rosy piece, in which he pointed out that among the country's 14 million officially jobless, the percentage receiving unemployment benefits has fallen from 75% last year to just 48% this year, because so many people have been out of work for more than a year--a third of all those unemployed--that their benefit checks have run out. That gives a hint about how serious the joblessness really is, though it ignores the reality that only half of those who lose their jobs even qualify for unemployment benefits in the first place.)