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The Media Think Maybe Unemployment Is a Good Thing?

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the April jobs report from the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., May 7, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Last month’s jobs report missed expectations, even though the May projection had been lowered because of slow growth. Three million people have been unemployed for a year, and it’s unclear if the U.S. will meet the ambitious GDP projections estimated last year. Luckily, the media are here to tell us that everything is okay; in fact, high unemployment may be a good thing. 

A CBS report covering the economic recovery is fascinatingly soft on the administration. It does virtually nothing to push back against the government’s own view of the numbers. This was its coverage of the report, which came nearly 100,000 jobs lower than expected:

“President Joe Biden said America is on the move again Friday after the latest jobs report showed employers added 559,000 jobs in May, closer to what economists anticipated after April’s disappointing jobs report. While the president said he was ‘extremely optimistic,’ he warned there will be bumps along the way and urged Americans to get vaccinated. He also said now is the time to seize on the upward momentum.”

Examples like this abound, such as the media reporting that “lofty” May projections were merely “overly optimistic.” The media’s left-wing bias is not new. However, some have recently defended the administration by arguing that the poor job growth is actually good.  

According to The Economist, “a leisurely pace of jobs growth does not necessarily indicate that the economic recovery has gone wrong.” Apparently, “Build Back Better” has been replaced with “Build Back Leisurely.”  The author argues that low employment rates shows that low-wage workers are being courted back by higher wages. The article also explains that 4 million workers quit their jobs, which is a good thing because it means that workers have more power in labor-management relations. The Economist isn’t alone, Heather Long of the Washington Post believes the low numbers are part of a “great reassessment” of work. 

Having workers come back with higher wages and more flexibility is positive, but we can’t seriously pretend that low job growth is a good thing. Unemployment, both short-term and long-term, isn’t good for companies or workers. To boost wages in the long-term, we need a favorable business climate with an active labor force. Genuine economic growth gives workers more flexibility, as well. None of that can happen when we pay people more money to not work.

It’s okay to believe your own two eyes. More people with jobs is a good thing. Sometimes, the raw numbers tell a complete and compelling story on their own. 

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