New York Times, WaPo Emphasize July Jobs Report Not Meeting Expectations After Downplaying Similar Numbers in 2016

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• August 7, 2018 4:22 pm


The New York Times and Washington Post's coverage of last month's jobs report centered it falling below expectations, while the newspapers framed a similar jobs number more positively in October 2016 after it didn't meet expectations.

The economy continued a growth streak and added 157,000 jobs in July, although it was below expectations of adding 195,000 jobs that month.

The Washington Post headlined its story on the report, "U.S. economy adds 157,000 jobs in July, slightly below expectations," writing in its second paragraph, "The pace of job growth was below economists' predictions that about 195,000 jobs would be added last month, but the Labor Department revised employment growth even higher for May and June, meaning the three-month average for job gains is 224,000, a very healthy pace at this stage of the recovery."

The New York Times tweet about the report also noted the jobs report cane in "below analysts' expectations." The original report by Nelson D. Schwartz noted the expected jobs number at the top; it also wrote about a "steady stream of hiring gains and a robust reading on economic growth." The piece has since been updated to talk about workers hit hard by the recession joining the economic recovery.

In September of 2016, when the Obama administration was in office, the economy added 156,000 jobs, coming in below expectations of 172,000 jobs.

In a story headlined "U.S. Economy, Showing Resilience, Added 156,000 Jobs Last Month," The New York Times reported at the time, "the American jobs machine keeps chugging." The piece waited until the sixth paragraph to note the jobs numbers were below expectations.

"Before the report was released, economists on Wall Street looked for the economy to add 172,000 jobs in September. Revisions for July and August showed 7,000 fewer jobs were created in those months than the Labor Department first estimated," the same Times reporter Schwartz wrote.

The tweet about the report said it showed the "labor market remains resilient."

The Washington Post headlined its report in October 2016, "U.S. adds 156,000 jobs in September; unemployment rate rises to 5 percent." It led the story, "U.S. companies maintained their steady pace of hiring in September, helping the economy add 156,000 new jobs, new government data showed Friday."

The Post‘s Chico Harland waited until the eighth paragraph of its piece to tell readers the jobs numbers were "slightly below market expectations, but some economists said Friday morning that the data does little to change the Federal Reserve’s calculus about a potential interest rate hike in December."

The Post tweeted the jobs number was "solid," while noting the unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent. Harland explained in the article the increase was "largely because the labor force swelled with scores of new would-be workers."