'Evening News' Report Warns of More (and Your) Unemployment

     When newscasts start reporting about how to find a job after you’ve been laid off from the recession, things must be very bad, right?

     According to the January 23 “CBS Evening News,” it is something to be worried about, but the numbers don’t actually back that up.

      “It's a bumpy ride for the American worker as well. As the economy slows the unemployment rate is rising,” “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric said. “About 7.6 million Americans are now unemployed. That's a million more than a year ago. So what should you do if you lose your job? [CBS correspondent] Kelly Cobiella looks at some strategies for job seekers for whom this economic downturn is really hitting home.”

     Couric is correct – there are 7.6 million Americans unemployed. While that sounds like a lot, unemployment, at 5 percent for December 2007, isn’t near what it was during the highs of previous two recessions.

     Unemployment rose to 6.3 percent following the 2001 recession and 7.8 percent following the 1990-91 recession. Unemployment during the Jimmy Carter presidency was at 7 percent, but was amplified by a 13.5-percent inflation rate.

     But for “Evening News,” it was time for Remedial Job Searching 101. That might even mean taking a part-time job.

     “You should also be open to a part-time job,” Cobiella said. “If nothing else it's a way to make contacts. Network in person and online, and as a rule of thumb, allow at least one week of searching for every $10,000 in salary. That's six weeks to land a $60,000-a-year job.”


     Cobiella used James Matarazzo, a former vice president of sales at the beleaguered mortgage lender Countrywide (NYSE:CFC), to illustrate the point of just how bad things are. Matarazzo worked for Countrywide in Florida, a state where the housing market is really struggling, and now he’s sending out resumes.

     “In the last six weeks, I'd have to estimate, it's got to be over 100 [resumes],” Matarazzo said. “I had one soft offer that I kind of made a counteroffer to. I never heard back from them again.”

     According to the U.S. Labor Department, first-time jobless claims decreased by 1,000 to 301,000 in the week ended January 19, from a revised 302,000 a week earlier. That was far below what economists expected, according to Bloomberg. This is also far below typical recessionary first-time jobless claims, which usually exceed 450,000 according to Briefing.com, an investor newswire service.

     The job-scare story has shown up elsewhere already. On January 17, ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired a segment on how to “recession-proof your job.”

     “[C]ountless Americans are worried that their jobs might be at risk,” ABC host Robin Roberts said.