Fox News' coverage of the April unemployment report was largely negative, despite the fact that economists largely agree that the report shows positive gains in the labor market.
Unemployment Rate Falls
BLS: Unemployment Rate Drops To 7.5 Percent. The May 3 unemployment report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that total nonfarm payrolls rose by 165,000, edging the unemployment rate down from 7.6 to 7.5 percent. [Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5/3/12]
Huffington Post: Previous Months' Numbers Revised Upwards. The April unemployment report also revealed that previous estimates of job growth -- which fell below expectations -- were revised upwards. From The Huffington Post:
Maybe the most eye-catching part of Friday's report were revisions to prior months: February job growth was ratcheted up to 332,000 from an initial reading of 268,000. And March job growth was revised to 138,000 from 88,000. That means there were another 114,000 jobs in those two months than initially estimated. [The Huffington Post, 5/3/12]
Huffington Post: Drop In Unemployment Not Due To Reduced Labor Force. A May 3 Huffington Post article by chief financial writer Mark Gongloff explained that, unlike previous months, the drop in the topline unemployment rate was not due to people leaving the labor force, noting that the labor force actually grew in April:
In another sign of strength, the unemployment rate managed to fall despite the fact that 210,000 people joined the labor force to look for work in April. In several previous months, unemployment had fallen simply because workers had dropped out of the labor force, either in retirement or despair. As it stands, the labor-force participation rate -- the percentage of working-age Americans either working or looking for work -- held steady in April at 63.3 percent. That compares with the rate of about 66 percent that prevailed for many years before the recession. [The Huffington Post, 5/3/12]
Report Shows Positive Gains For Economy
Economist John Silvia: Report Is Positive Signal For Economy. In an Associated Press report on the April unemployment figures, Wells Fargo chief economist John Silvia claimed that the report showed positive gains for the economy:
"This is a good report," said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. "There's a lot of strength... It's good for the economy. It's good for people's income."
The stronger job growth suggests that the federal budget cutting "does not mean recession," Silvia said. "It does not mean a dramatic slowdown." [Associated Press, 5/3/12]
Economist Jared Bernstein: Report Shows "Healthier Job Market Than We Thought." Reacting to the April unemployment report, economist Jared Bernstein noted that it showed signs of an improving labor market:
But the bottom line is that the April numbers, along with the revisions to earlier months, reveal a considerably healthier job market than we thought, with accelerating gains in hiring and a slowly declining unemployment rate. Key industries, like manufacturing, construction, and especially government still bear close watching, and the on-again, off-again pattern of these jobs reports suggests that the economy's growth is not as solidly linked to the labor market as we need it to be.
But we're headed in the right direction, even if it's in fits and starts. [On the Economy, 5/3/12]
Fox's Coverage Still Largely Negative
Majority Of Fox's Coverage Negative In Tone. Fox News devoted more than 17 minutes of its morning coverage to the April jobs report. Of the total coverage, about 55 percent was presented in a negative light, focusing on non-related issues such as how the economic recovery "feels" or speculating about potential negative effects of the Affordable Care Act on future job growth.
Media Matters viewed coverage of Fox News from 8:30 AM (when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its report) to 12:00 PM on May 3, 2013 and recorded the amount of time spent discussing the unemployment reports in both positive/neutral and negative tones. We included teases and straight news segments. The analysis includes the shows Fox & Friends, America's Newsroom, and Happening Now.