The Washington Times Online Edition
Select a category: 

EDITORIAL: Obama’s weakly job numbers

Underreported unemployment generates feel-good headlines

Mugshot

Frank Wallace, who has been unemployed since May of 2009, holds a sign during a rally organized by the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The credibility gap is widening between what the Obama administration says about the jobs picture and what Americans sense is the grim reality. Despite the official line that things are getting better, the employment situation is growing progressively worse.

You would never know this from the headlines. The Labor Department reported Thursday that initial unemployment claims for the previous week had fallen by 1,000. This was the sixth reported decline in the last eight weeks. The overall impression is that the situation is improving, slowly but surely.

Over that same period, however, the actual number of new jobless per week has increased by almost 40,000. The Obama administration is managing perceptions by revising the weekly numbers upward after the fact. Every week for at least the last eight weeks, the initial jobless number has been raised after it was released, sometimes significantly. So while the combined initial figures over that period show a 13,000 new jobless decline, this is only because 49,000 jobless were not included in the initial reports.

Revising upward after the fact allows the White House to generate favorable headlines even as joblessness increases. By shifting the previous week’s total above the new jobless number, it appears that claims are falling when they actually are increasing. The 1,000-claim drop in the most recent report was only possible because the previous number was raised by 3,000. A week to week comparison shows a 2,000-claim increase, but this is the kind of bad news the Obama administration would rather not have reported. By rigging the numbers, they can say to the press that everything is trending in the right direction when in fact it is not.

At times, the reporting has been transparently absurd. On March 22, the Labor Department reported weekly claims at 348,000, and CNN headlined “Unemployment benefit claims fall to four-year low.” The next week, the administration quietly raised the previous week’s number of new claims to 364,000 and reported a current week total of 359,000 with a 5,000 drop. Even though the number of claims was 11,000 higher than the initial report and 16,000 new jobless had suddenly materialized, CNN again dutifully headlined, “Jobless claims fall to four-year low.”

The Labor Department is already under fire for reporting shrinking monthly unemployment figures even as record numbers of Americans are leaving the labor force. This bolsters administration claims that things are good on the job front when in fact they are miserable. Boasts about the millions of jobs created during the last three years must be weighed against the fact that when President Obama took office, 92 million Americans were either unemployed or not in the labor force, while today that number is 100 million. All the bogus headlines in the world won’t change that.

The Washington Times

About the Author
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
All site contents © Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC
Jobs | About | Customer Service | Terms | Privacy