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NY Times on Unemployment: No Buts for Obama

John on December 5, 2009 at 11:41 am

Warner Todd Huston at Big Government did the work on this one. I’m basically just rewriting his post a bit.

Here’s the NY Times, circa 2002, under President Bush. The headline is Unemployment Fell in August but Drop is Called Insignificant:

The labor market improved slightly last month but offered little hope that the economy would soon emerge from its prolonged weakness.

American employers added 39,000 jobs in August, roughly in line with the modest growth of recent months, the Labor Department reported yesterday, but the entire gain came from the hiring of new airport security guards and other government workers. Companies remain reluctant to hire until economic growth improves.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.7 percent last month, from 5.9 percent in July, but economists at the Labor Department and on Wall Street called the decline almost meaningless. The rate, which is based on a smaller survey than the payroll numbers, often jumps around from month to month. Many experts expect the jobless rate to move up at least slightly later this year.

The drop in the unemployment rate should be ignored,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief United States economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, N.Y. ”Over all, new jobs are still very scarce.”

Do you think they are downplaying the drop a bit?

Now here’s the same paper reporting Friday on another unemployement report under the headline Jobs Report is Strongest Since the Start of the Recession:

The nation’s employers not only have stopped eliminating large numbers of jobs, but appear to be on the verge of rebuilding the American work force, devastated by the recession.

The unexpected improvement comes as a relief to the Obama administration, which plans to unveil new proposals next week to ease the plight of the jobless following its labor forum in Washington on Thursday.

In the best report since the recession began two years ago, only 11,000 jobs disappeared last month, the government said on Friday, and the unemployment rate actually dipped, to 10 percent, from 10.2 percent the previous month.

“There are going to be some months where the reports are going to be a little better, some months where the reports are worse, but the trend line right now is good,” President Obama said in a visit to Allentown, Pa., offering reassurance to a city besieged by unemployment and a country still suffering from the highest unemployment rate in 26 years.

Many forecasters suggest that the turning point — from jobs being cut to jobs being added — will come by March, assuming the economy continues to grow, as it finally started to do in the third quarter. If they are right, the beginning of a work force recovery would come more quickly than after the last two recessions, in the early 1990s and 2001, despite the much greater severity of this downturn.

Two presidents, both dealing with a recession. Bush’s report showed a drop from 5.9% unemployment to 5.7% and 39K jobs added. That was “insigificant” and “meaningless.”

Obama’s jobs report showed a drop from 10.2% unemployment to 10% and a loss of 11K jobs. That is called “improvement” and a good trend.

The most significant difference is that in the Bush report, paragraphs are structured around a “but.” News is reported but here’s why it doesn’t mean anything. There is one forward looking statement and it’s the one that says unnamed experts expect unemployment to go up.

In the Obama report there are no but statements at all. In fact Obama gets a report structured around “if.” If forecasters are right this is great news. Assuming the economy grows, this is good news. And notice in the second paragraph the author highlights something Obama “plans to unveil.” It’s all very forward looking and hopeful. No buts for Obama.

This is what the professionals call journalism, but I call it media bias.

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