Major Newspapers Ignore Low Jobless Numbers

     Jobless claims hit a five-year low in mid-January according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on January 19. But while Bloomberg and Reuters reported the news in full articles, The New York Times buried the item at the bottom of a Business Day report on housing starts. The Washington Post relegated the news to one sentence in an Associated Press business brief, and USA Today ignored the story altogether although the day before, those same papers hyped a five-year high in the overall inflation rate.

     The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 36,000, to 271,000, in the week ended Jan. 14, read a January 19 Bloomberg article, which went on to note that Economists had expected a reading of 309,000. The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure, also fell to the lowest in more than five years.

     The labor market remains tight and employment is on a solid footing, economist Doug Porter told Bloomberg News. Reuters found an economist with a similar view. The bottom line is the labor market is not weakening and is probably strengthening, the British news service quoted Decision Economics senior economist Pierre Ellis.

     While USA Today and The Washington Post left out the positive economic news, New York Times reporter Vikas Bajaj buried it in at the bottom of a negatively slanted story on housing starts.

     In his January 20 article, Pace of New Home Construction Fell Sharply in December, Bajaj focused on the December dip in housing starts but left out that 2005 was still a record year for housing. An estimated 2,064,700 housing units were started in 2005. This is 5.6 percent (1.9%) above the 2004 figure of 1,955,800, reported the Commerce Department in its January 19 news release.

     The Business & Media Institute previously documented how USA Today and The Washington Post were quick to tout five-year high figures for inflation, even though core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel prices, remained unchanged from the previous years low 2.2 percent figure.