The Media’s Cynicism Is Slowing Economic Growth

Every month a jobs report comes out. Previous months are adjusted up or down. And assumptions are made about the health and direction of the country. And every month you...

Every month a jobs report comes out. Previous months are adjusted up or down. And assumptions are made about the health and direction of the country. And every month you can count on the media to never find a silver lining even if the numbers are positive.

The April 2013 jobs numbers came out and 165,000 jobs were added in April. The March numbers were revised upward to 130,000 from the 80,000 that was originally reported and the February numbers are at a staggering 330,000 jobs added. Even prior to the revisions all three of those months had positive job growth and in fact we have had positive job growth for a long time now – many many months – it’s starting to turn into years.

And yet some in the media decry with headlines “Numbers Mask Stubborn Problem”, “Worst Recovery Since WWII”, “An Ongoing Disaster”, “The Economy Should Be Doing Better” and some are barely covering the news at all – Fox and NBC News both barely mention the jobs figures on their websites and you have to dig to even find it!

These folks in the media are hurting the recovery and behaving in a manner that is not acceptable.

By all measures we are well on our way to a stable economy. The fact that congressional inaction and sequestration have not effected the over all economy really at all is a good sign. The DOW hit 15,000 for the first time in history today and more jobs were added this month than the average job growth during President W. Bush’s monthly average of 130,000.

That’s right – during pre-recession economic times monthly job growth was only 130,000 on average!

Normal unemployment, or what was considered normal, was 4.5%. We are now at 7.5%. Now I know – there are some folks who “stop looking” for work – but there were I’m sure a percentage of folks in that 4.5% that stopped looking as well – and let’s be honest – no one stops looking for work really – they just decide to take a different approach to survival and hope that they can not end up on the streets in the process. But they don’t stop looking -they just adjust how they are looking.

When someone decides to go back to school that is considered “dropping out” of the labor force by the media and economists it would seem. I don’t believe that to be a correct characterization – retraining or changing vocations is smart – it’s not “giving up” looking for a job – it’s delaying the job search until they finish retraining or switching careers. You can’t do that over night. But it doesn’t mean that they’ve “given up” – it means they are adapting accordingly.

Some folks choose to retire if they can. That’s not giving up – that’s cashing in early. And it may not be the best economic situation for the retiree who may have expected a few more years in the workforce and may now be living off of strapped savings or retirement but it’s not really “giving up” – it’s also adapting. And when¬† you consider technological shifts that may make it more difficult for older workers to adapt to the changing business landscape it’s understandable. Can we do more for this group to keep them from needing to retire early? Yes – we can make retraining and training programs more easily available and encourage people to take them throughout their career so if they do lose their jobs suddenly they may be more prepared.

The fact is many of us have found jobs since the recovery started and things are turning around, but rather than cover our stories of success the media instead focuses on the negative sides to the story and even pushes negatives when none are really there in order to drive clicks and site traffic – bad news makes money – good news does not – or so it would seem.

In the process of chasing profit the media  sadly are adding to the problem by creating a negative, cynical atmosphere void of any solutions. This dismal landscape painted daily by the likes of the Huffington Post and The Drudge Report further beat down those who may actually be unemployed and looking for a way out. This negativity does not breed hope or ideas but instead shuts down the person who is most likely already depressed and stressed. It does not help you when people simply point out that you have a problem to overcome Рit only helps if people point out a path you can not see for yourself and therefore help you overcome the obstacle. I have seen very few articles or features on those like myself who went from being unemployed to employed. Those who are still unemployed Рthat final 3% Рneed to hear from those of us who have recovered so that they can get ideas on how to apply our stories to their lives. Also knowing that people have found recovery can keep your hope up and allow you to perhaps see a bit more clearly.

The news media’s job as the fourth estate is to tell the truth – not drive traffic or views. It is to tell the truth. Period. That’s it. No spin. No tilt. Just the facts. And though they have been resistant to this mandate for decades – we should still hold them accountable.

 

The Huffington Post for example ran with the headline “Worst Recovery Since WWII” which is laughable when you consider that the Great Recession is only matched by the Great Depression – which took us until the end of WWII to really recover from – over 10 years – so it would stand to reason that the greatest economic disaster since the great depression would also have a rough recovery. To expect something else is unrealistic.

It took us over ten years and a war to really recover from the Great Depression. We are only about 2 years out from the end of the Great Recession and we’ve had positive job growth and market reaction for many months now. This is good news. And for those who are left in that 3% to get us back to the coveted 4.5% unemployment – those folks – those folks still struggling – they need ideas and hope not cynicism and pain. Being unemployed was horrible – it was life sucking – it was demoralizing – and when you are unemployed it is incredibly unhelpful to mention how horrible it is, how life sucking, how demoralizing – we already know. What we need, or in my case needed, was help. Ideas. Direction. Hope.

The only news organization that seemed to actually paint the picture for what it was today was CNN who ran with the headlines “April Jobs Report: Hiring Picks Up” and “Record Highs On Wall Street” and “Economists Do A Double Take”.

We should all take heed to not confuse what “could” happen for what “is” happening. The “could” universe is ripe with false assumptions and vacuum thinking void of the variables that actually impact our lives – variables such as tsunami’s, earthquakes, oil spills, floods, fires and war.

The media’s job is to report what “is” happening. Not speculate on how it “could” have gone different or “could” be going faster or better. It’s the world of “is” that matters. And what is happening is record highs on wall street and hiring picking up.