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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Job Numbers Were Not "Far, Far Worse Than Anyone Anticipated"

The Job Numbers Were Not "Far, Far Worse Than Anyone Anticipated"

Monday, 08 April 2013 05:11

Why do they let Cokie Roberts get on NPR and say such things? (Sorry, it's not posted yet.) Yes, the numbers may have been worse than what the experts whom NPR relies upon expected, but it was not a big surprise to people who follow the economy closely. (My forecast was 150k. The March jobs number, plus upward revisions for the 2 prior months, was 149k.) 

Roberts also claimed that President Obama's budget proposal, with its big cut to Social Security, is an effort to appeal to centrist voters. There is no polling data that show cuts to Social Security are popular among centrist voters. In fact, polls have consistently shown that cuts to Social Security are hugely unpopular across the political spectrum.

Comments (11)Add Comment
Very Bland People are Even Worse than Very Serious People
written by Last Mover, April 08, 2013 7:19
This is where the left and right can agree on what happens when public media like NPR sinks to the lowest common denominator and serves up stale "reporters" like Cokie Roberts to dole out "news" so shallow and bland it fails even to rise to the level of commentary or entertainment.

If the essence of "news" just comes down to differences between what happened versus what was expected by the "experts", then practically all "news" is redundant by definition, already known before it's followed up on by the likes of a Cokie Roberts replay of what the self selected "experts" already said.

The public would be better served to pay Cokie Roberts to stay off the air and just broadcast dead space for what would have been said.

"The following silent dead space is dedicated to our listeners for the engagement of critical thinking on job numbers and SS cuts since our dumbed downed reporters no longer possess these skills."
Cokie Roberts
written by JackB, April 08, 2013 7:43
Roberts represents the worst aspects of the chattering classes. How do these people get their jobs?
written by kharris, April 08, 2013 8:07
If what Roberts had said was "including revisions, the jobs data are worse than anyone expected", she'd have been wrong. What she said was normal journalistic practice when reporting economic statistics. You related the single-period result to the median estimate or the range of estimates, without reference to revisions to prior months. The lowest estimate in the Bloomberg survey was 100k new payroll jobs. Nobody in that survey expected a result for March as low as 88k. The result was over 100k below the median and mean estimates. Roberts had reasonable cause to say what she said. Taking her to task for doing so is small minded and silly. Why waste space and reputation trying to make Roberts say what you want her to say, when in this particular case, there is nothing particularly wrong with what Roberts said? You have a different view of your own? Print your own view, but don't be a jerk about it.
Wishful Thinking Abounding
written by Jesse, April 08, 2013 8:38
The Jobs Number was much worse than expected. It was.

But it is the trend that is more important. So we may have to wait to see a couple of other numbers.

However the labor participation rate is still in a steep decline and the median wage is stagnant.

No need to talk up a recovery when there is not yet one.
written by fuller schmidt, April 08, 2013 10:12
Dean's point, kharris, is that anyone paying close attention was not surprised by the Jobs number, and that all public commentators should be paying close attention.
written by kharris, April 08, 2013 10:31
Whatever Dean's point was, the way he made it was just plain silly. In a quick look through commentary from economists after the data release, I found a good many describing the outcome as worse than expected. In the conventional sense, that was true. Dean is insisting on a non-conventional read of the data. He also does what any good economic hack does when he misses his forecast, finding a way to claim he was right when he was not. Dean says that his 150k estimate was right if you add in the revisions to prior months. That is not the way this game is played. If Dean wants to play a different game, fine, but it's not fair to call fouls when you change the rules after the play. Dean quite often stoops to make his points and has done so this time. Roberts is well worth criticizing much of the time - she is pretty much pure Washington group-think. This time, though, she is not wrong in what she said, and that doesn't change because Dean has a point to make.
Jobs Numbers
written by Dean, April 08, 2013 10:58

I had written a number of pieces prior to Friday pointing out that the expectations that the economy was growing more rapidly were silly. I don't give a damn about the 150k, the point was there was a lot of evidence that the economy was not in fact accelerating.

I know that was the minority position -- but frankly I am pretty damn sick of seeing people tell me that they keep going to the same group of economic experts who are always wrong and then saying that they did their homework.

Someone who wants to be taken seriously should not be relying exclusively on people who have a horrible track record in predicting what the economy will do.
How do these people get their jobs?
written by Sandwichman, April 08, 2013 11:09
incestuous nepotism
written by sherparick, April 08, 2013 4:04
Obama's budget was designed to appeal to the Very Serious People in the village media. But as Obama is finding out, cuts in popular programs that merely hurt the majority of the people does not get their juices going. You really have "hurt" them (raise the retirement age and Medicare age to 70 and do it NOW!!!)
written by fuller schmidt, April 08, 2013 7:02
Sorry kharris, Dean's 150k number including revisions is the correct way to look at in the trading world.
Throwing the 2014 Election
written by jumpinjezebel, April 08, 2013 9:03
So Obama wants to take back the House - so he thinks cutting Social Security will cause the base to go out and campaign and vote??? Who do you think you're kidding.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.