Strong Employment Report "Too Good to Be True"?

The U.S. economy added 166,000 jobs in October, much more than expected - but the Times wrung out as many cold water caveats as it could to dampen enthusiasm.

Saturday's lead Business Day story by Michael Grynbaum took the latest very strong jobs report and managed to wring out every caveat it could ("Despite Gain In Jobs Data, Wall Street Is Skeptical") based on future hypothetical concerns about housing and energy prices.

"A robust employment report offered investors a pleasant surprise yesterday, but some thought it was too good to be true.

"The economy added 166,000 jobs in October, the fastest pace in five months, the Labor Department said. But anxious investors cast doubt on the report and sent stock markets down much of the day as the outlook for fourth quarter remained cloudy.

"Analysts said the job gain in October meant that the Federal Reserve would be less likely to cut interest rates again when it meets in December despite fears of rising energy prices, weaker spending and a worsening housing slump.

"'Sooner or later these big problems out there - credit, housing, and oil - are going to catch up with us,' said Nigel Gault, chief United States economist at Global Insight. 'We can't keep running forever on this two-track economy, where housing collapses and everything else just carries on like nothing else is happening.'

Grynbaum poured cold war on the economic good news, always managing to match good news with a less positive trend from somewhere:

"The estimate of overall job growth, which beat even the highest estimates, followed a 96,000 gain in September, which was revised down from the previous estimate of 110,000. Payrolls are increasing at the slowest annual rate since June 2004.

"Manufacturers lost 21,000 jobs last month, their 16th consecutive decline. Retail businesses cut 21,500 employees from their payrolls. The declines underscored analysts' expectations that consumer spending will slow, further hurting businesses.

"The unemployment rate held steady at 4.7 percent in October, the highest rate since August 2006, but only because the survey found that more people stopped looking for work and were therefore not counted by the government as unemployed."

It's far from the first time the Times has talked down a strong economy.