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6-Year Low in Unemployment Claims Draws Yawns from Media

     On February 9, the federal government announced that weekly jobless claims hit the lowest average in six years a sign of job growth in a strong economy. That night, none of the network newscasts reported the six-year low, and the following day, major newspapers all but ignored the story.

     The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits was up by just 4,000 last week, putting the weekly average over the past month at the lowest level in nearly six years, the Associated Presss Martin Crutsinger reported on February 10. Analysts said the big improvement in claims in recent weeks was apparently not a fluke but an actual sign that the labor market has improved significantly, he added.

     Yet the February 9 editions of NBCs Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and ABCs World News Tonight ignored the news. The following day The Washington Post relegated the jobless mention to one sentence in an AP market brief; The New York Times ran a Bloomberg News digest which included three sentences on the jobless figure, and USA Todays Eric Nordwall included the story in the Moneyline sidebar on the Money sections front page.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented how the print and broadcast media magnify and spin coverage of bad economic data while downplaying good jobs and economic growth reports.