Issues & Insights

The Booming Jobs Market Mystifies the Press, When They Notice It At All

I&I Editorial

‘These are prosperous times in America.”

If that sounds like pro-Trump propaganda, that’s because it’s rarely uttered by anyone who isn’t already a supporter of the current president.

But that’s how National Public Radio, to its credit, began a story about the incredible jobs boom underway right now in a segment called “America Is In Full Employment, So Why Aren’t We Celebrating?”

“Why doesn’t today’s full employment come with effervescence?” reporters Pallavi Gogoi and Scott Horsley ask.

But while the reporters do a good job of describing the widespread benefits of the current economy, they also manage, in asking that question, to expose the extreme bias at work among the overwhelming majority of their colleagues in the press.

“Unemployment has reached a nearly 50-year low. The jobless rate for Hispanics has never been lower; the past two years have been the best job market ever for African Americans. Wages are starting to rise — and, more significantly, for the lowest-paid workers. That may not endure, but it’s a reversal of the long-term trend where the most highly paid workers were also the best rewarded. The job market today is so hot that groups that were sort of on the margins also are finding opportunities — including people with disabilities or a prison record.”

Did you get all that? Wages are rising for the lowest-paid workers. Minority groups have never had it so good. People at the margins are getting pulled back into the labor market.

So why, they ask, is the country “not quite exuding the self-possession or excitement that should accompany these exceptional times.”

See also: There’s A Blue Collar Jobs Boom Under Trump

First of all, that claim that nobody is celebrating the current economy is wrong. Every measure of consumer confidence and optimism is up. In some cases, way up.

Just this month, the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index hit a 15-year high of 58.6 — anything over 50 signals optimism. By contrast, this index averaged below 50 for President Obama’s entire eight years in office.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index also hit a 15-year high in its latest rating.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, which was 98.6 the month before the 2016 presidential election, is now at 129.2. The index was 100 in 1985, when the economy was in the middle of the Reagan boom.

Measures of business confidence are high, as is the biggest measure of confidence around — the stock market.

The fact that the NPR reporters aren’t aware of this shift in confidence says more about the bubble they live in than what is actually happening in the country.

Inside this bubble, it’s all doom and gloom, anger and frustration, and an absolute fixation on driving President Trump from office. The idea that people are happy is alien because, inside the bubble, nobody is. The closest they get is to say that “anger over politics may be skewing views of the economy.”

That is why, in detailing the “exceptional times” we live in today, the NPR reporters never once mention what has contributed significantly to bringing them about. Namely, President Trump’s economic policies of tax cuts and deregulation.

Nor do they cast an eye on their own profession. If there’s not dancing in the streets, it’s because the mainstream press refuses to cover the economy. Or if they do, they fixate on the negative.

This bias isn’t new, by the way. In the early 1990s, coverage of the economy suddenly turned overwhelmingly positive in 1993. That, of course, was the year control of the White House shifted from Republican to Democratic hands.

Throughout President Obama’s eight years, reporters tried desperately to put a happy face on a gloomy and historically anemic economic recovery.

Of course, Trump is often his own worst enemy when it comes to championing the growth on his watch by drawing attention to other matters. Then again, when he does boast about the economy, the press either ignore it entirely, or pick at nits.

If you want to fully understand incredible bias at work, try to imagine how today’s economy would be covered under a Democrat. It would be a constant media celebration. Proof that Democratic policies work to lift all boats. Etc.

The only reason there is no joy in the journalist equivalent of Mudville today is because Trump didn’t strike out.

— Written by John Merline

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  • Ford Motor said Monday that it is laying off about 7,000 managers and other salaried employees, about 10% of its white-collar workforce across the globe, as part of a restructuring plan designed to save the No. 2 automaker $600 million annually.

    U.S. auto dealers are dealing with a backlog of 4.2 million unsold vehicles.
    Auto sales in Europe have fallen for seven months in a row.
    Chinese auto sales fell a whopping 16.6 percent in the month of April.

    U.S. auto loan delinquencies have reached the highest level since the last recession.

    • And? Nothing Congress or a President or Supreme Court can do can ensure every single business succeeds at exactly the same time. It’s still up to the business leaders to make wise decisions for the health of their organization.

    • Have you noticed that just a few decades ago you were lucky to get 100 thousand miles out of a car but today 200 thousand is common and even 300 thousand isn’t all that rare. Demand for new cars is low because the old ones keep chugging along–car companies are the victims of the fabulous engineer they themselves paid for.

      As to “U.S. auto loan delinquencies have reached the highest level since the last recession,” that’s what happens when people start thinking the availability credit is equivalent to the availability of free money. It has nothing to do with the state of the economy.

  • Once you understand that roughly 90 percent of the media have become functionally “Democratic Operatives with bylines,” and that pretty much everything they report is done so through the lense of how it will reflect upon the Democratic party. Then you understand the bias in all news reporting.

    • This. The media used to be reliably biased toward the Democrats. Now they have become full-blown propagandists.

  • Re: “Of course, Trump is often his own worst enemy when it comes to championing the growth on his watch, ” what are you referring to. Every rally includes a celebration of the economic stats. So how is the President demonstrating enmity?

  • And at the end Mr. Merline reveals his own bias against th president with the comment that “Of course, Trump is often his own worst enemy when it comes to championing the growth on his watch.” WTH??

  • People should stop lying about wage growth. While nominal wage growth is up significantly, nominal wage growth is primarily a measure of inflation, not the ability of workers to buy more or better things. And yes, inflation is much higher under Trump than Obama. But real wage growth, the ability of workers to buy more or better things, was three times higher under Obama than it has been under Trump. Employment growth was also significantly higher under Obama. Yes unemployment, is at record lows, but unemployment was at a historically low level when Trump took office and was at record lows for minorities already. The best that can be said about Trump is he didn’t derail the economy he inherited while creating future problems by already doubling the deficit.

    • I think Budgets and deficits are the purview of the legislative branch. Blame Paul Ryan et al for those!

    • You are literally delusional. People SHOULD stop lying about wage growth….you. Inflation is flat. Market is way up. Every company is looking at growth …

      This had nothing to do with the former occupant of the White House

      Finding employment under the former regime was nearly impossible. Business confidence was in toilet, nobody was hiring due to high taxes, massive regulation.
      Simply lying to people does not make it true.

      • Inflation is NOT flat. Transportation is up 8%, housing costs are up 10%+, health care costs are up 15%, and wages are up a measly 3-4%. American wage earners are losing ground.

        Traditional indicators are crap – and it is you that are delusional.

  • Nicely thought out and presented point of view. The one thing the article fails to reference and that for their own reasons both the left and right are ignoring is the contribution domestic oil and gas production has made to the improved economy. Gas prices are down to 75% off of their peak and oil is arguably 50% lower than was expected before the current boom in domestic production from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Every barrel of oil NOT imported means dollars staying in domestic circulation. The reduction in energy prices are like an across the board tax cut worldwide… which should eventually unleash a worldwide consumer driven economic resurgence – like what is already happening in the USA. Inflation from increased labor costs are probably being heavily moderated by offsetting lower commodity costs from lower energy input costs… Pretty cool, unless you’re an OPEC+ country. And on that note, whose funding the “keep-it-in-the-ground” movement anyway?

  • I made a comment years ago that if I were president I would cut taxes, especially corporate taxes, and slash regulations, creating a mega-booming job market. I then said that in my second term, with millions of jobs to be filled, I’d gut the federal bureaucracy. We’ll see.

    • The problem with the booming economy is taxes from it feed the government that just grows the more it’s fed.

      • Republicans don’t need tax revenue to increase spending. That is why the deficit is about $300 billion per year HIGHER than forecast before Trump took office.

  • Exactly right. Most people are celebrating it, just not the media and Dems. And again right when you ask what would it be like – especially under Obama who tried the basic lefty policies of raising taxes, raising handouts, raising regulation, and faux stimulus- if a D were in office.

  • Looks up gdp data, sees no statistical difference between the Obama economy and the Trump economy…Looks up monthly job numbers, sees Trump economy are lower than Obama’s. Looks up deficit, sees Trump has increased it 62% and rising. Wonders if John Merline knows how to use Google?

  • Yes, the economy is good and, in general, continues to improve. And yes, this is a continuation of trends that began under President Obama.

    Yes, the Republican tax cuts are providing Keynesian type fiscal stimulus, leading to somewhat higher growth in the near term. You can buy higher growth in the near term by running higher deficits. That is what we are doing.

    In the 27 months since President Trump took office the US has added 5.4 million jobs. A good number and better than the average under Obama, who took office when we were losing 700,000+ jobs per month, or any president since Clinton On the other hand, in the 27 months before Trump took office the US added 5.854 million jobs–or 454,000 more BEFORE Trump. So no major turnaround on jobs. Just the continuation of an eight year trend. I hope that trend continues going forward.

    Yes, real GDP growth is higher under President Trump. Not the 3.5+% he promised, but higher. The average for his two years since the 1st quarter of 2017 is 2.9%. It was 2.1% for Obama’s eight years (1st quarter 2009 to 1st quarter 2017). Growth for calendar year 2018 was also 2.9% (2.86%), slightly below the 2.9% (2.88%) in 2015. Most economists predict we won’t see 3.5+% growth for a full year in the next few years. I hope they are wrong.

    Let’s look at real GDP growth and average monthly private sector job growth for presidents before Trump:

    Obama = 2.1% average real GDP growth; +124,000 average monthly private sector jobs
    Bush #43 = 1.7%; MINUS 4,000
    Clinton = 3.7%; +219,000
    Bush #41 = 2.0%; +31,000
    Reagan = 3.4%; +153,000
    Carter = 3.4%; +188,000

    Looking at the above numbers, perhaps the reason reporters said the Clinton economy was better than the Bush #41 economy wasn’t bias. It’s because it was better.

    Based on the above, the only president who seems to suffer from negative reporting bias is Carter, who had real GDP growth slightly below President Reagan and average monthly private sector job growth somewhat higher than Reagan.

    One thing is up from that fiscal stimulus: the annual budget deficit. In January 2017 the CBO forecast that, if no policy changes were made, annual budget deficits would be $559 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017, $487 billion in FY 2018 and $601 billion in FY 2019. The FY 2017 budget deficit was $665 billion, the FY 2018 budget deficit was $779 billion, and the FY 2019 budget deficit is forecast to be around $900 billion. So about a $300 billion higher deficit per year since the tax cut was implemented.

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