Jennifer Rubin notes that “the Obama team is spinning another jump in unemployment as somehow good news.” The Obama team is not alone; the MSM generally viewed last week’s unemployment figures the same way. This headline from NBC News, “Jobless Rate Hits 8.9%, But Economists Hopeful,” was typical.
I don’t see this entirely as spin. When the economy is in as deep a hole as ours, the best one can hope for in a new monthly economic report on unemployment is a drop n the rate at which jobs are being lost, coupled perhaps with some improvement in the labor force participation rate. Employment is, after all, a lagging economic indicator.
The April figures showed both of these phenomena. If a Republican were president, I would see small signs of hope here, and there is no reason why I should view matters differently in a Democratic administration. The economy is the economy no matter which party “owns” it.
What really bothers me is the MSM’s inability to embrace this “single-standard” approach. When the economy picked up decisively under President Bush but the employment numbers lagged behind, the MSM kept harping on our “jobless recovery.” During the “Bush recovery,” no good could be found in a report that showed the unemployment rate stable, never mind one that showed it increasing (as is the case now). Indeed, even when the unemployment rate began declining under Bush, the MSM still wasn’t satisfied; it began carping that the new jobs didn’t pay high enough wages.
As Jennifer points out, “we are headed for double digit unemployment, the very thing the stimulus bill was supposed to stave off.” Moreover, “we didn’t keep unemployment anywhere near 8% as the administration predicted — but we did rack up a whole lot of debt.”
It won’t be easy for the Obama administration to cast this situation in a positive light, even with the assistance of the MSM. For my part, I’d be more sympathetic to this effort if the MSM’s treatment of the Bush administration hadn’t left such a bad taste.