CBS's Couric Worries of Job Losses, Dow Slide
Just hours before unemployment dropped to a 5-year low and just five days before an election, CBS‚Äôs Katie Couric was warning about ‚Äújobs in jeopardy.‚ÄĚ
Couric, who also had downplayed the recent Dow records, highlighted a small cooling trend on Wall Street for the November 2 ‚ÄúEvening News,‚ÄĚ before introducing a piece about, what else, job losses.
‚ÄúThe Dow was down for the fifth straight session, the longest losing streak of the year,‚ÄĚ a sour Couric relayed to her audience. Looking at ‚Äúa couple of reasons for today‚Äôs decline,‚ÄĚ Couric cited unchanged worker productivity coupled with a 3.8 percent jump in wages and benefits in the same time period.
‚ÄúThat could add up to jobs in jeopardy,‚ÄĚ Couric worried, as she led into a piece on the struggles of Michigan autoworkers.
Couric spoke too soon. The next morning the federal government released new data that show the lowest unemployment rate in five years and strong job growth over the past few months.
The November report ‚Äúshowed that the civilian unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point from 4.6 percent in September‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúmarked the third month in a row that the politically prominent jobless rate decline,‚ÄĚ noted Associated Press writer Jeannine Aversa.
While the October job numbers fell below expectations ‚Äúboth August and September turned out to be much stronger than previously estimated,‚ÄĚ Aversa reported.
But what of the productivity numbers? The Heritage Foundation‚Äôs James Sherk offered some perspective a few weeks earlier on how wage hikes follow productivity gains and don‚Äôt always match up in the short term snapshots. Snapshots like the third quarter statistics Couric tossed up for viewers.
‚ÄúWages and productivity move together over the long term, but often do not move together during the course of the business cycle,‚ÄĚ Sherk noted in an October 10 WebMemo.
The bottom line, insisted Sherk was that ‚Äúcontrary to various claims, businesses are not refusing to pass on productivity gains to their workers.‚ÄĚ Indeed, in the recovery from the 1991 recession, falling unemployment rate meant that ‚Äúcompanies had to compete for workers‚ÄĚ and as a result ‚Äúcompensation caught up to productivity gains.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúToday evidence suggests that we may have already reached this point in the economic cycle,‚ÄĚ Sherk concluded his analysis, published 24 days prior to the release of the government‚Äôs latest jobs and unemployment data.
Couric‚Äôs negative slant on the economy is par for the course for her network, which was found by the Business & Media Institute to have the worst record for covering both unemployment and general economic news stories.
‚ÄúMore than 80 percent of the full-length stories‚ÄĚ on the ‚ÄúEvening News‚ÄĚ from August 2005 through July 2006 were negatively slanted, while good economic indicia were relegated to short anchor mentions.
‚ÄúMore than 56 percent of CBS‚Äôs brief stories‚ÄĚ on the economy were positive, BMI researchers reported in the October 11 special report, ‚ÄúBad News Bears.‚ÄĚ