Fox News set an unreasonably high standard for weekly jobless claims, maintaining the network's penchant for working political spin and misinformation into even the most straightforward news segments.
On the September 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy delivered an otherwise straight news report on the Department of Labor's latest release of weekly first-time unemployment claims. Doocy correctly noted that weekly claims stood at 323,000 and that claims were down from the previous week and lower than economists had forecast.
Doocy then contributed his own editorial commentary, noting that jobless claims were still more than 300,000 while adding, "that is a lot".
With regards to labor market indicators, the fact that weekly claims still stand above 300,000 is not alarming, and historically is not "a lot" as Doocy claims. In fact, over the past three decades, weekly claims rates have typically been far above the arbitrary 300,00 threshold.
Furthermore, economist Frank Lysy argues that a jobless claims rate of 310,000-320,000 per week is evidence of an economy "close to full employment."
Doocy's comment illustrates the long-standing Fox tradition of shifting the goalposts on important labor market indicators. The network is not ashamed to set unreasonable standards to cast positive indicators in a negative light.
Earlier this year, Fox's coverage of jobless claims dwelled on the number 375,000. Time and again hosts and guests have claimed, "Economists say that weekly claims must consistently fall below 375,000." In 2012, Fox Business anchor Cheryl Casone argued that the standard for a healthy labor market would be 200,000 or lower -- a level that has not been reached since 1970.
The current four-week rolling average stands at 328,500 claims, down from the previous week and still near a six-year low set last month.