On job-loss numbers, Fox's Garrett changed the metric, falsely asserting Obama's statement was untrue

››› ››› NATHAN TABAK

Summary: On Special Report, Major Garrett falsely accused President-elect Obama of making an untrue assertion when Obama said that the 2.589 million jobs lost in 2008 were "the most since World War II." In fact, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been no greater net job decline in any calendar year since the end of World War II than occurred in 2008.

During the January 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News senior White House correspondent Major Garrett falsely accused President-elect Barack Obama of making a false statement when Obama said in a January 11 interview on ABC's This Week that the 2.589 million jobs lost in 2008 were "the most since World War II." In fact, in raw numbers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been no greater net job decline in any calendar year since the end of World War II than occurred in 2008.

During the This Week interview with host George Stephanopoulos, Obama said: "[T]he jobs numbers this week were terrible. That means we've lost 2.5 million last year. That's the most since World War II."

Garrett said of Obama's comments: "Mr. Obama says the 2.6 million jobs lost last year was the worst since 1945. Is that true? No." Garrett continued:

Last year's job losses were the fifth worst since 1945. The key statistic is percentage of workforce laid off, meaning the number of layoffs as a percentage of the entire workforce. In 1945, 6.6 percent of workers lost their jobs. Last year, 1.9 percent lost their jobs. Are things bad now? Of course they are. As bad as 1945? No. And four years -- four other years between then and now were much worse than what we've just gone through.

Rather than note that he was using a different index from Obama -- percentage loss rather than net loss -- Garrett simply accused Obama of a falsehood. In fact, data from the BLS, shown in the graph [1] below, confirm that the estimated net job loss for 2008, totaling 2.589 million jobs, was indeed the worst in absolute numbers since 1945, when 2.75 million jobs were lost:

12 Months Net Change

Garrett also claimed that "four years or other years between then [1945] and now were much worse" than 2008 in terms of percentage of jobs lost. But BLS statistics show only two years during that period that fit Garrett's description. Job losses reached 3.4 percent in 1949 and 2.3 percent in 1982, as shown in the graph [2] below:

12 Months Percent Change

From the January 12 broadcast of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

GARRETT: On the spending side, Las Vegas is seeking funds for an organized crime museum, calling it a surefire tourist attraction and job creator. Mr. Obama came close but did not rub out the mob museum.

[begin video clip]

OBAMA: The country's mayors put together here a range of projects we can do. We didn't include that.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (host, ABC's This Week): But would you want to fund it or not?

OBAMA: Well, I think what we have to do is evaluate whether or not these are projects that, as I said, are going to provide long-term benefits to the economy.

[end video clip]

GARRETT: Now, some number crunching. Mr. Obama says the 2.6 million jobs lost last year was the worst since 1945. Is that true? No. Last year's job losses were the fifth worst since 1945. The key statistic is percentage of workforce laid off, meaning the number of layoffs as a percentage of the entire workforce. In 1945, 6.6 percent of workers lost their jobs. Last year, 1.9 percent lost their jobs. Are things bad now? Of course they are. As bad as 1945? No. And four years -- four other years between then and now were much worse than what we've just gone through -- Bret.

BAIER: All right, Major. Thanks.

[1] These data were obtained from the BLS database by modifying the search using the "More Formatting Options" link with the following parameters:

Data: 12 Months Net Change
Time frame: 1945 to 2008
Time period: December

[2] These data were obtained from the BLS database by modifying the search using the "More Formatting Options" link with the following parameters:

Data: 12 Months Percent Change
Time frame: 1945 to 2008
Time period: December

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Major Garrett
Show/Publication
Special Report with Brit Hume
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