AP: Look on the bright side, economy worse than it looks!

James Taranto fisks an example of media bias that would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic:

One minuscule compensation for an awful economy is that, with a Democrat in the White House, it makes for some rather amusing journalism as putatively objective reporters try to put the best face on bad news. This Associated Press headline, previewing tomorrow’s unemployment numbers, is a classic of the genre: “Layoffs of Census Workers Will Distort Jobs Data.”

“The census began hiring more workers last year,” the AP notes. “It added about 500,000 this spring.” The census is wrapping up, leaving many of those workers back on the unemployment rolls. Take the headline literally, and the AP is promising that things will get back to normal in the spring of 2020, when the government hires hundreds of thousands of temps for the next census. Until then, the employment stats will look worse than they actually are.

It’s all a matter of perspective, though. Who’s to say that the 3 months out of 120 when the census is going on is “normal” and other 117 months are “distorted”? You could even make a case that the hiring of census workers distorted the job numbers, making them look better than they actually are.

The AP story begins as follows:

For the first time in six months, the federal unemployment report to be released Friday will likely show a net loss of jobs.

But hold off on the panic button.

It’s true that employers are expected to have cut more than 100,000 jobs in June. But that figure, if accurate, will be deceptive. It will reflect the end of up to 250,000 temporary census jobs.

Don’t panic, things haven’t really gotten worse. They were actually just as awful last month! The dispatch continues:

Analysts predict private businesses added 112,000 jobs in June, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. That would be a healthy rebound from May’s 41,000 gain. But it’s far from enough to signal a roaring recovery or rapidly reduce the unemployment rate, now at 9.7 percent. It would take a net gain of around 200,000 jobs a month to quickly reduce that rate.

The story closes with a quote from Credit Suisse economist Jay Feldman: “Slow growth may not be satisfying, but it is emphatically not–and emphatically better than–a new recession.” Amen to that, but isn’t this what they used to call a “jobless recovery” back when we had Republican presidents?

As blogger Jim Hoft notes, with video, President Obama is a glass-is-half-full kind of guy too. “Unemployment is still at 9.6. Yes, but it’s not 12 or 13–or 15.”

Or, we might add, 25 or 50 or 80–or 100. And if that doesn’t cheer you up, this surely will: It is logically impossible for unemployment to rise above 100%.

Wait, it gets even better. At this time in 1930, a lot of people were unemployed too, including laid-off temporary census workers. Almost none of those people remain unemployed today. To paraphrase John Maynard Keynes, in the long run we are all off the unemployment rolls.

The Stimulus Is Working!
“Thousands in Welfare Cash Tapped at California Strip Clubs”–headline, Los Angeles Times website, June 30

The mental image that comes to mind, every time I read these pathetic media spin-jobs, is the journalist as Mr. Hahn or DJ Lethal: