Apr 7, 2006

On FOX News and Unemployment

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(Toledo, OH) I am intrigued by FOX News and their use of the term "employment rate" when reporting economic news.

One of the correspondent standing outside the White House noted today that the "employment rate stands at 95.3%, meaning that almost everyone who wants a job has a job right now."

This, as opposed to just reporting that the unemployment rate for March was 4.7%.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that unemployment figures do not count the number of workers who have given up looking for a job and other "persons not in the labor force," the glass-half-full approach of FOX reminds me of government efforts during the Great Depression to instill optimism in the public as a means to use public emotion as a tool to fuel the economy.

If more people would just be optimistic, the theory goes, the economy would turn around. However, the Depression did not end until the industrial production for the Second World War kicked into high gear, despite the the efforts of Hoover and Roosevelt to encourage positive thinking among Americans.

Were it that simple, I would join in on the Prozac party, don the rose-tinted glasses, and drink the Kool-Aid.

Cheerleading, however, will not create prosperity, and FOX would be better served by reporting the news instead of spinning it.

Addendum, 12:16 pm: I may as well dish out a few props to FOX. Anchor Brigitte Quinn has consistently impressed me as one of the stronger news personalities, and I heard her use the terms "avuncular" and "ingenue" during an interview with analysts discussing Katie Couric's move to CBS.

No, she was not reading from a teleprompter, and yes, she used the words in an appropriate context, ye cynical readers.

Quinn is simply one of the smartest television journalists on the air, and a refreshing change from those who would dumb down the news. Make 'em grab a dictionary, Brigitte.

15 comments:

McCaskey said...

You're asking for quite alot for Fox News to be balanced and not an administration cheerleader. I don't care how many $50 words that woman anchor used correctly, Fox News is is a PR machine for conservatives, nothing more.

-Sepp said...

95.3 working or 4.7% not working is still a pretty damn good figure. When I left Europe, unemployment was 14% there. No way to spin that number into anything good.
McCaskey, CBS is supposed to be a "fair" news source too. At least FOX isn't inventing news ala Dan Rather. FOX just serves it's veiwers like any other network.

Brian said...

Sepp,

McCaskey and other liberals are just disappointed that there is at least one network where conservatives can go and not have their intelligence insulted.

After all, the entire media was THERES until the advent of talk-radio in the early 1990s. They want it back.

Brian said...

Please forgive my spelling error. I do know there is no such word as "THERES".

McCaskey said...

"Please forgive my spelling error. I do know there is no such word as "THERES"----


Don't apologize, Brian. I'm sure the president has used this non-word in this form many times, and Fox News reported that it was completely accurate to do so.

Dariush said...

Brian: "liberals are just disappointed that there is at least one network where conservatives can go and not have their intelligence insulted."

BWAHAHAHA!

Oh, Christ.

historymike said...

Whether we call it "95.3% employment" or "4.7% unemployment," it's still a lot of people out of work.

Remember, too, that this is people who are actively seeking work, not the total number of people not working.

I was more intrigued by the comments of the commentator: "..meaning that almost everyone who wants a job has a job right now."

To me, a Republican or Democrat in the White House makes little difference. Both are far too willing to allow American jobs to go overseas.

Clinton signed NAFTA into law, which makes him almost as much of a neo-con as the current crop of employment pimps.

-Sepp said...

Not only was NAFTA just one more turn of the thumbscrews to American labor but, the government's tax, regulation and, red tape had it's consequences too. Add that to labor unions that demand 20 an hour plus benefits for entry level work and you can see why businesses are farming out work to India and China where the same product is produced for 10% of the cost of producing it domestic. To add to the mix listed above, GREED also is a player. The company I work for turned it's largest gross profit since 1947. To commorate the fete, the board of directors have decided to lay off 1500 people. Add that number to the folks who will be getting layed off from Ford, GM, Dana, Meritor, AT&T, Chrysler, and other places, Fox's numbers will be changing soon enough.

McCaskey said...

Thank you, Sepp, for acknowledging the role greed plays in this. It plays a helluva lot.

And I think most Americans would agree in hindsight NAFTA was a mistake, although the arguments made for it at the time seemed to make sense. Paging Ross Perot...

Stephanie said...

"Remember, too, that this is people who are actively seeking work, not the total number of people not working."

It also doesn't include the people seeking work who've settled for jobs they're over-qualified for or those that don't meet their family's financial needs. Spinning it to make it look better really serves no useful purpose ala news. (Mike can recall, here, my recent complaint about reporters.)

Partisan politics does NOT solve this problem. Ignoring the many Americans who suffer from financial hardship due to poor job opportunities or no job opportunities does NOT solve this problem. This hardly seems like a laughing matter to me.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

The US is one of the few countries in the world where "poor" means you only have one TV, and your life expectancy is 70 instead of 76.

As to Quinn's vocabulary, was she just using big words correctly, or does she actually ask tough, intelligent questions? Granted, command of the English language is a step up from most TV reporters, and I'm grateful, but big words aren't as important or impressive as a journalist with insight and balls.

-Sepp said...

McCaskey, as I remember it, most Americans had FORESIGHT as to what NAFTA was going to do and were opposed to it as it was shoved down our throats. Perot hit a bullseye with his "great sucking sound from mexico" statement. NAFTA was the Pandora's box for the manufacturing sector and begun the shift from America being a producing country to a service based society. The service sector jumped when NAFTA took effect and continues to grow. So, anyone who wants a job CAN have one if, they don't mind flipping burgers, washing / parking cars or working retail sales. I'll disagree with HM in calling Clinton a neocon since basically NAFTA did nothing but redistribute wealth from the United States and into south America which is socialism on a much grander and destructive scale than the usual feel good programs.

McCaskey said...

And, of course, those service jobs that pay $7.50 or $8 an hour are fine for students, young people working their first job, or a secondary job for a two-income family.

But when you have the man or woman breadwinner who used to have a $20 an hour manufacturing job taking those service jobs because that's all they can find, we see a disappearing middle class and standard of living.

Petrograde said...

You are correct, McCaskey! A person has to work two jobs just to keep up anymore.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

"NAFTA was the Pandora's box for the manufacturing sector and begun the shift from America being a producing country to a service based society."

Hardly. That shift had been happening for years, starting with the first Barbies produced in Taiwan back in 1967, and probably even before that.