Well maybe not fine, but the doomsday headlines of this week are conveniently hiding some key pieces of information to make them salacious enough to scare everyone into reading them voraciously. Here are the headlines of my Google News feed for “career or job or employ or job market”
- No End in Sight to Job Losses; 663000 More Cut in March, New York Times
- Ray of hope in bad job numbers: crisis may be flattening out, Kansas City Star
- Job Seekers Face More Bleak News, Wall Street Journal
- Meltdown 101: Job losses highest in 50 years, The Associated Press
- US Stocks Lower After Report Showing Big Job Losses, Wall Street Journal
Only ONE in five headlines tells the true story. Thank you, Kansas City Star! Here’s the deal: The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its March job numbers and yes, they are pretty bleak. It’s the 5th consecutive month of huge job losses, with employers cutting 663,000 jobs in March. The total jobs lost during this recession now stands at 5 million and the total unemployment rate moved up to .4% to 8.5%, the highest unemployment rate since I was 2 years old (aka 25 years).
However, what most of those headlines failed to show was the underlying news, and a bit of positive news at that (positive is, of course, a relative term). During the recession thus far, economic forecasts have fallen short of reality: conditions proved to be worse than predicted, month after month. February AND March of this year are the first months where economic predictions were dead-on and as expected, not worse. I can’t really explain this properly, so I’ll let the experts do the trick:
“While steep, the March job losses were consistent with what mainstream economic forecasts had suggested, providing a measure of relief that things aren’t worse than expected. That, and the fact that February’s job losses weren’t revised downward, as previous months’ reports had been, suggested that layoffs may be flattening out.” “I think that after months and months of getting worse-than-expected news, our expectations are in line now with where the economy is. ‘As hard as it is to believe, it is a sign that things are getting better,” said Mark Vitner, senior economist with Wachovia. “We think the worst may be behind us. Job losses are going to remain very large for the next few months, but they should begin to moderate.'” (from Kansas City Star)
I know, I know… saying that our expectations are in line with what’s happened doesn’t mean the economy is going to be fine anytime soon. I am in no way saying that the recession is over and jobs will be pouring in- we are very far from that sunny day. It does, though, mark a positive change in our understanding of this situation.
But, since perception is reality, and 4 out of 5 news sources in my very unscientific experiment are allowing readers to perceive that doomsday is upon us, we’ll continue to hear really bad news about our reality. Try to look for the good news within the bad. It’s always there, but a good news story isn’t as good as a bad one (say that 5 times fast). As I learned in my journalism classes in undergrad, “if it bleeds, it leads.”