Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bias in jobs reporting?

When I opened my email this morning, I received a note from a reader who clearly saw some bias in my reporting of April's job numbers from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.

Bias in jobs reporting?

When I opened my email this morning, I received a note from a reader who clearly saw some bias in my reporting of April's job numbers from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.

Here's his email:

"Why did you only quote someone from the Obama administration and not someone from the GOP, even Romney’s campaign?  The fact of the matter is that the unemployment rate as reported is not accurate reflection of job growth.  In fact, while 115,000 jobs may have been produced the number of people actually looking for employment declined.  The fact that more people are opting out is the reason the unemployment rate is going down not the fact that jobs are being created or the economy is improving.  I’m afraid your reporting of this issue appears biased to me."

So, his email did make me think and I think that I will stop quoting from the White House for the next few months. It's kind of rote to put in something from the White House each month. I've basically been including a comment either from President Obama or one of his economic officials all along. Rote isn't good. There should be a specific reason to include any comment. 

More coverage
 
Unemployment rate ticks down in April, but barely

On the other hand, job growth (or the lack of it) is a big political issue, so I'll need to address it in a future report. But I think I'll wait until closer to the election before I grab quotes from the president or his organization, and Mitt Romney, his crew or the GOP. (Now here's hoping I remember this when the report comes around again in June!)

As to the rest of his comment, I'm going to explain why I don't think my reporting is biased and it has to do with the sheer number of statistics in the report, which runs between 30 and 40 pages. There are so many statistics, all ripe for analysis and explanation. This time, I chose to explain the concept of  "seasonally adjusted," because weather seems to have been a factor in the job scenario lately. Many, many times in the past, I've written about the issue my reader mentioned in his email: How unemployment rate is partly a function of whether people are encouraged enough about their prospects to join the labor force.

Anyway, thanks for writing. I appreciate the input.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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