Jobs Report Positive; News Reports Negative

Jobs Report Positive; News Reports Negative
NYT and Reuters frame positive news negatively, while others provide mixed reports or no report at all.

by  Megan Alvarez
July 8, 2005

     The Bureau of Labor Statistics had good news to report on July 8, 2005: unemployment was down from 5.1 percent in May to 5 percent for June and the economy added 146,000 jobs last month. The last time the unemployment rate was at 5 percent was in the Bureaus report for the month of August 2001. Additionally, the Bureau revised its job growth numbers up for April and May to 292,000 and 104,000, respectively boosting the two-month count by 44,000 payroll jobs. Simply put, all this was good news for the economy.

     However, Reuters and The New York Times managed to frame the positive news in a negative way. The Times morning headline read, June Job Creation Lags Behind Expectations, while Reuters called the job growth tepid.

     Both of these articles based their negative reporting on the fact that economists expected job growth to be around 200,000. However, according to The Dallas Morning News and as reported in the BMI special report One Economy, Two Spins, economists predictions are usually on average 40,000 higher than actual reports and have been since 1999. Also, as was the case with April and May 2005, numbers are often revised upward in subsequent months.

     In other reports, CNN termed the Bureaus numbers as a mixed picture on its program, American Morning. CNN reporter Andy Sewer said of the job growth, That's below what was anticipated, but then went on to say, The good news is the 5 percent unemployment rate. That matches the lowest rate we've seen since September of 2001, right around 9/11, of course. That's good news. Also good news is the fact that the jobs report raised the number of jobs created for the month of April and May. So, more jobs added there, as well.

     NBCs Today also provided a mixed report on July 8, 2005. Natalie Morales said, Many analysts expected even more new jobs, but then added, The unemployment rate is now the lowest it's been since August 2001.

     Despite the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level since 2001, the two other major networks, CBS and ABC, failed to mention the Bureaus numbers in their morning shows.

     These figures come just after the Conference Board reported consumer confidence to be at a three-year high on June 28, 2005. As the Business & Media Institutes News Analysis report, Confidence Game, showed, two of the three major networks were reluctant to report on the positive consumer confidence numbers. CBS was the only major network that did report on the number.

     These latest reports follow a trend analyzed in One Economy, Two Spins. The research done in this report showed that the three major networks, CNN, and the nations major newspapers, including the Times, are more likely to do negative reports on the economy when there is a Republican president and positive reports when there is a Democrat in office.