With the February jobs report released Friday morning finding an increase of 379,000 jobs, the immediate reaction from Fox News was to insist that the country did not really need to pass President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief package after all. The fact remains, however, that the economy is still down by over 9.5 million jobs from where it was at the start of the coronavirus pandemic a year ago.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked rhetorically: “You've got to ask yourself, do we still need $1.9 trillion into the bloodstream that we don't have, to rescue the economy that is beginning to open up?”
Kilmeade then told Fox host Jeanine Pirro that “the economy’s coming back on its own,” to which Pirro answered that the Biden stimulus package “has nothing to do with the pandemic.”
Co-host Steve Doocy did point out that nearly 10 million people were “still out of work — but the number, nonetheless, is really good,” before moving on to the next topic.
But the bottom line remains that there is still a lot of work to be done before the economy can recover fully from the pandemic, despite claims from Fox News personalities. Jason Furman, a professor at Harvard and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, points out that even the pace of job growth in February “would take 4-1/2 years to recover,” and the economy needs something on the order of 1 million jobs per month.
Data analyst Andrew Van Dam of The Washington Post also points out that the new jobs report, when put into visual terms with past months, actually shows a slowing plateau of recovery:
Washington Post economics correspondent Heather Long also points out that in addition to the nearly 10 million people who are classified as unemployed, another 4.2 million were classified as “prevented from looking for work due to the pandemic” — which, as Long explained, would largely be “moms watching kids” — so the real number of unemployed “should be at least 14 million” people. In addition, state and local education jobs continued to fall last month. And while most of the new job gains were in restaurants — 286,000 of 379,000 total — overall the hospitality sector is “still down 3.5 million (-20%) from last year.”
Moreover, The Associated Press points to a possible connection between the government aid programs and any signs of economic recovery: “Americans sharply increased their spending at retail stores and restaurants in January, when the $600 relief checks were mostly distributed. Retail sales jumped 5.3%, after three months of declines.”
Fox’s “news”-side show America’s Newsroom also spoke to Fox Business host and former Trump White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who said that “the economy is a lot stronger than Washington or the current administration wants to admit, because they want their stimulus bill, which is not a good bill.”
Just to be clear, Kudlow is notorious for his wrong economic pronouncements, which simply coincide with Republican policies and insist upon their success — including when it has come to the pandemic.
In February 2020, while serving as director of the White House’s National Economic Council, he said that the new coronavirus was under control. “We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow said during an appearance on CNBC. In March, Kudlow said there would not be any major recession: “I don’t think this is recessionary and I don’t think this is going to be catastrophic.” He added later in the month that the economic impact would be short-lived — a matter of “weeks and months.” Then in June, he declared: “There is no second wave coming. It’s just hot spots.”
With that said, Kudlow predicted again on Friday that the economy will bounce back strong — provided that the government stops acting to curb the pandemic’s economic effects through stimulus spending, which he decried as “a Democrat liberal wish list.”