Sunday, July 5, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He complained that the media wasn't covering unemployment news.

To judge from his Twitter feed, Trump was in a bad mood today, lashing out even Fox News, which is normally reliably soothing to him. Among other complaints, he claimed to be upset that "The Fake News Media" was failing to report on "new job numbers" that are "setting records."

In fact, last Thursday's job report was covered extensively by every news organization in the world that reports on the United States. Trump—who, if nothing else, is an attentive TV news watcher—was probably more upset that the reports provided context for the positive topline numbers. For example, the fact that the results are based on surveys done in early June, just before states started closing businesses back down as the COVID-19 pandemic roared back out of control.

As would be expected, the flashy numbers of job "growth" were really just a portion of the workforce that had been laid off returning to their old jobs. But the Trump administration's own report shows that many of those lost jobs aren't coming back, at least until the COVID recession is completely past, as businesses fail or scale down permanently. 

The number of unemployed persons who were on temporary layoff decreased by 4.8 million in June to 10.6 million, following a decline of 2.7 million in May. The number of permanent job losers continued to rise, increasing by 588,000 to 2.9 million in June.

So what? 

  • It's not the news media's job to report only the parts of the news that make presidents look good.
  • Presidents who can't or won't acknowledge that there's a problem can't solve it.