This is Obama’s worst week ever? Really?
Eric Bolling is either stupid or a shameless liar. There’s no getting around it. And his guest last night, Hugh Hewitt, is just as bad.
These two spent last night arguing that President Obama just had his worst week ever from a big round of bad economic news. This of course would be news to the nation’s economists.
Bolling presented a list of factors, including that the economy shrank for the first time in three years, jobless benefit applications are up, and the unemployment rate is back up to 7.9%. He added that on top of all that, Obama is “disbanding its jobs council.”
First, GDP contracted by a grand total 0.1%, so far within the margin of error that it could be revise to anything from -0.5% to +0.5% or more by the spring, so we don’t even know for a fact that the economy really did contract. What we do know is that it was a quick and steep cut in government spending by the Pentagon in anticipation of sequestration (the “fiscal cliff”) last month, a policy that Fox News (being biased, which is fine) has advocated with near fanaticism for over a decade.
In other words, the economy contracted in 2012Q4 because the government finally did what Fox News and the Republican Party has been demanding it do for four years: it cut spending quickly and somewhat harshly, and the result was a rather interesting dip in economic output.
Second, jobless benefits (they actually mean initial, or first-time unemployment claims) move up and down every month, and those claims never, ever reach zero. There were somewhere around 260,000 claims per week near the end of 2001Q1, the lowest number since 1989. The previous two numbers (roughly) were 330,000 and then 365,000. 330,000 was the lowest we’ve seen in over a year, and 450,000 the most. It peaked at about 650,000 at the height of job loss in 2009.
In other words, what I’ve pointed to in this graph (red) represents the increase in initial unemployment claims that Eric Bolling says contributes to that being Obama’s “worst week ever”, while the blue points apparently don’t count because they didn’t happen… you know… this week:
To better illustrate how stupid this is, here’s initial unemployment claims since the recession began:
Third, unemployment only moved by 0.1 points up, also within the margin of error for the report. Beyond that, unemployment is not like a job creation statistic or initial unemployment that you can understand without seeing the data. If the economy adds 150,000 new jobs but about 70,000 people who don’t have jobs stop looking for work, they’ll stop being counted and the unemployment rate will decrease. Likewise, if the economy adds 150,000 new jobs but 70,000 people without jobs start looking for work, unemployment will increase. Same number of jobs added, but people moving in and out of the workforce.
So an increase of 0.1 points meanings basically nothing has changed.
To illustrate beyond that how incredibly dumb the stuff that’s coming out of Bolling’s mouth is, here’s unemployment:
You can see unemployment increasing much more than it has in the past 2-3 months as part of the business cycle and changes in government policy. You can also see that unemployment is down significantly from its peak and that it’s on pace to hit 6% by 2016.
When you add unemployment to recent job reports:
October 2012: +137,000
November 2012: +247,000
December 2012: +196,000
January 2013: +157,000
…with the number of jobs needed to keep up with labor force growth (90,000/month) and the unemployment rate rising from 7.8% to 7.9%, what you’ve got is more people looking for work because of a growing economy acting to increase the unemployment rate even as all the jobs created act to bring it down.
Not only wasn’t this Obama’s worst week ever (that frankly was the month he was inaugurated when the economy was shedding more than 750,000 jobs per month), it was no different a week than any other in the past 2-3 months.
Ideology and bias isn’t the problem at Fox News, it’s the willingness to broadcast baldfaced lies while masquerading as a legitimate news operation. At this point, getting *no* news at all is going to make you more informed about the state of the economy than what you’ll get from that tabloid.