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, CBSâ€™s Katie Couric was warning about â€śjobs in jeopardy.â€ť
Couric, who also had downplayed the recent Dow records, highlighted a small cooling trend on Wall Street for the November 2 â€śEvening News,â€ť before introducing a piece about, what else, job losses.
â€śThe Dow was down for the fifth straight session, the longest losing streak of the year,â€ť a sour Couric relayed to her audience. Looking at â€śa couple of reasons for todayâ€™s decline,â€ť Couric cited unchanged worker productivity coupled with a 3.8 percent jump in wages and benefits in the same time period.
â€śThat could add up to jobs in jeopardy,â€ť 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 â€śshowed that the civilian unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage point from 4.6 percent in Septemberâ€ť and â€śmarked the third month in a row that the politically prominent jobless rate decline,â€ť noted Associated Press writer Jeannine Aversa.
While the October job numbers fell below expectations â€śboth August and September turned out to be much stronger than previously estimated,â€ť Aversa reported.
But what of the productivity numbers? The Heritage Foundationâ€™s James Sherk offered some perspective a few weeks earlier on how wage hikes follow productivity gains and donâ€™t always match up in the short term snapshots. Snapshots like the third quarter statistics Couric tossed up for viewers.
â€śWages and productivity move together over the long term, but often do not move together during the course of the business cycle,â€ť Sherk noted in an October 10 WebMemo.
The bottom line, insisted Sherk was that â€ścontrary to various claims, businesses are not refusing to pass on productivity gains to their workers.â€ť Indeed, in the recovery from the 1991 recession, falling unemployment rate meant that â€ścompanies had to compete for workersâ€ť and as a result â€ścompensation caught up to productivity gains.â€ť
â€śToday evidence suggests that we may have already reached this point in the economic cycle,â€ť Sherk concluded his analysis, published 24 days prior to the release of the governmentâ€™s latest jobs and unemployment data.
Couricâ€™s 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.
â€śMore than 80 percent of the full-length storiesâ€ť on the â€śEvening Newsâ€ť from August 2005 through July 2006 were negatively slanted, while good economic indicia were relegated to short anchor mentions.
â€śMore than 56 percent of CBSâ€™s brief storiesâ€ť on the economy were positive, BMI researchers reported in the October 11 special report, â€śBad News Bears.â€ť