Fox tries to have it both ways with census job figures

››› ››› TODD GREGORY

In June, Fox News figures downplayed job growth numbers by pointing out that many of the jobs created were temporary census positions. Now, those same Fox figures are hyping net job losses over the summer while ignoring that the losses are largely explained by the conclusion of those same temporary census positions.

Net job losses explained by conclusion of hundreds of thousands of census jobs

BLS: Census 2010 employment peaked at 564,000 in May, dropped to 82,000 in August. In its September press release on the U.S. employment situation, the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated, "Over the month, government employment fell by 121,000, largely reflecting the loss of 114,000 temporary workers hired for Census 2010. The number of temporary Census 2010 workers peaked in May at 564,000 but has declined to 82,000 in August."

Net job losses highlighted by Fox figures are explained by conclusion of those temporary census jobs they previously used to downplay job growth. Fox News figures have pointed to the loss of 283,000 net jobs during the summer months to suggest that the Obama administration's "recovery summer" was, in the words of Chris Wallace, "an economic and political bust." But those net job losses are more than explained by the hundreds of thousands of temporary census jobs which concluded during the summer - temporary census jobs those same Fox News figures previously highlighted in downplaying May's large net jobs increases.

Chris Wallace

THEN: Wallace on May jobs figures: "431,000 jobs were added," but many "were government census hires, and those are, of course, temporary." On the June 6 edition of Fox News Sunday (accessed via Nexis), host Chis Wallace said, "And here's why the stock market took such a dim view of the job numbers in May. Let's put it up on the screen. Four hundred -- yes, 431,000 jobs were added, but only 41,000 of those were private sector employment. All the rest were government census hires, and those are, of course, temporary."

NOW: Wallace: "[O]ver the summer, the economy lost 283,000 jobs."On the September 5 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace began an interview with Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine by saying, in part, "[O]ver the summer, the economy lost 283,000 jobs. ... Wasn't 'recovery summer' an economic and political bust?" In response, Kaine said, "After nearly 20 months in a row of private-sector job loss, we've gained jobs in the private sector now eight months in a row. There was some net losses over the summer because the census phased out."

NOW: After being told about "eight months of growth in terms of job creation," Wallace repeats "283,000 jobs" talking point. During a panel discussion later on Fox News Sunday, Fox News political contributor Juan Williams said, "When you hear from President Obama, as we did yesterday in his radio-Internet address, he says, 'Look, we've had eight months of growth in terms of job creation.' In fact, the numbers would have been better this last report -- " At this point, Wallace interrupted and said, "Private job creation. But total job creation -- the economy lost 283,000 jobs in 'recovery summer.' "

NOW: Wallace: "[I]n what the White House was billing as the summer of recovery, a total of 283,000 jobs were lost." Guest-hosting the September 3 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier (accessed via Nexis), Wallace said, "So the August job numbers came out today, and unemployment, the total unemployment number rose from 9.5 to 9.6 percent. Steve [Hayes], let's take a look at the internal numbers, which are more alarming. The economy lost 54,000 jobs in August along with the revised numbers of 54,000 in July and 175,000 in June. So Steve, in what the White House was billing as the summer of recovery, a total of 283,000 jobs were lost."

Stuart Varney

THEN: Varney on May jobs figures: "[A]ll these new jobs created, the vast majority were temporary government census workers." On the June 4 edition of America's Newsroom, Stuart Varney said, "[T]his is an extremely disappointing unemployment report. Yes, the unemployment rate went down to 9.7 percent -- got it -- but the fact that of all these new jobs created, the vast majority were temporary government Census workers, which will be gone by the late summer -- that is very bad news indeed because after spending a trillion dollars on stimulus, we only have tens of -- just a few ten thousand -- basically it's 20,000 new private sector jobs. Very disappointing."

NOW: Varney on summer job losses: "Summer's up, so where is that recovery?" On the September 4 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest host Varney said, "A recovery summer? One hundred and seventy-five thousand jobs lost in June; 54,000 lost in July; another 54,000 lost in August -- well, summer's up, so where is that recovery?" He continued, "Eight hundred and fourteen billion dollars in stimulus and still no jobs? Another 54,000 lost just last month. Yet, the president says he has no regrets, continuing his push today for another $30 billion in tax breaks for small businesses." During the segment, an on-screen graphic used the "283,000 jobs lost" figure:

Fred Barnes

THEN: Barnes on May jobs figures: "[I]t will get worse next month when many of these census workers are let go." On the June 4 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Fox News political contributor Fred Barnes said, "[T]he unemployment numbers today were horrible. Only 10 percent were private jobs in the job growth, and a good number of those were probably from the clean up down in the Gulf of Mexico and so are not permanent jobs. Everyone knew that was a setback and it will get worse next month when many of these census workers are let go."

NOW: Barnes: "[T]he so-called summer of recovery will probably wind up with net loss of jobs." On the August 30 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Barnes said, "And the ultimate embarrassment may be, and I think this will happen, the so-called summer of recovery will probably wind up with net loss of jobs in June, July, and August, a net loss of jobs in the Obama administration so-called summer of recovery."

Talking point about "283,000 jobs" lost in "recovery summer" apparently originated on Drudge Report

Drudge: "Economy LOST 283,000 jobs during 'Recovery Summer' months..." At 8:35 a.m. ET on September 3, text was posted at the top of the Drudge Report that read "Economy LOST 283,000 jobs during the 'Recovery Summer' months..." The text was later linked to a Bureau of Labor Statistics press release, and that headline and several related headlines were featured at the top of the sitethroughout the day:

Gateway Pundit: "The Obama economy lost 283,000 jobs in last three months." Shortly after the figure appeared on the Drudge Report,frequently incorrect Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft posted an entry headlined "Obama's Disastrous Jobs Record Makes George W. Bush Look Godlike." Hoft included a screenshot of the Drudge Report and wrote, "So much for that Recovery Summer... The Obama economylost 283,000 jobs in last three months."

Wallace uses talking point on Special Report. Later that evening, on the September 3 edition of Special Report (accessed via Nexis), Wallace said to Hayes, "[I]n what the White House was billing as the summer of recovery, a total of 283,000 jobs were lost."

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