Fox Business host Stuart Varney opened his show this morning by downplaying the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report for December 2015, marking the third consecutive month that Fox personalities have attempted to cast stellar job creation figures in a negative light.
On the January 8 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney opened the show by downplaying the December 2015 employment summary from the BLS, which showed the economy added 292,000 jobs last month. After accounting for upward revisions to job creation totals in October and November, the December report was the strongest jobs report of 2015. Instead of acknowledging these facts, Varney referred to this report as “modest by historical standards” and lamented that it was a sign of the “new normal in the Obama years.” Later in the segment, Varney and guest Paul Conway, a former Bush administration official, combed through the report for kernels of negative data. Far from being “modest by historical standards,” in the 77-year history of the BLS monthly jobs report, only 171 of the 923 months (18.5 percent) have seen job creation equal to or greater than the December 2015 total.
Varney's disingenuous complaint fits a trend at Fox News, where on-air personalities continue to lament consistently improving economic data. On November 6, 2015, Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a segment on the outstanding October jobs report, with Hasselbeck confusingly claiming that “only 271,000 jobs” had been created that month. On December 4, 2015, in response to a strong November report that beat most economists' expectations, Varney still managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was “mediocre.”
The December report showed that the economy added 2.7 million jobs in 2015 and the national unemployment rate remained stable in December at 5.0 percent. BLS revisions to October and November jobs figures combined to add 50,000 more jobs than previously reported, bringing the 3-month average for job creation to 284,000, its highest level since the end of last year.
In the face of Fox's contrarian reporting, actual economists were elated by the job market news. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers began a stream of tweets about the report by stating “It's beautiful. Just beautiful.” A blog by economist Jared Bernstein called the December data “another welcome show of strength” for the ongoing economic recovery. In a statement to The New York Times, economist Mark Zandi described the December report as “remarkable” and an “achievement”:
“The remarkable thing is how consistent employment growth has been over the past three or four years,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. “We're getting at least 200,000 jobs per month on a consistent basis. That's quite an achievement.”
Watch the full opening remarks from Varney & Co. below:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): 292,000 new the jobs created, modest by historical standards, the new normal in the Obama years. But hourly earnings unchanged, that's important.