Sunday, July 19, 2009

Oregonian Unemployment Article Omits Key Facts

Oregonian reporter Richard Read explains Oregon's 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation as follows:
"Economists cite multiple reasons for Oregon's high unemployment, chiefly the state's concentration on durable-goods manufacturing, which has been hard-hit during the recession. They say the state's rate may well increase further, exceeding 13 percent."

Durable-goods manufacturing? But, U.S. durable goods orders increased sharply in May matching a 1.8% rise in April.
"The Commerce Department said demand for durable goods rose 1.8 percent last month, far better than the 0.6 percent decline that economists expected. It matched the rise in April, with both months posting the best performance since December 2007, when the recession began."

What gives? Why do Oregon unnamed economists have a different story than the U.S. Department of Commerce?

Reporter Read doesn't cite the economists' names and seems to be unaware that the Commerce Department reported a sizable increase in demand for durable goods manufacturing nationally. Maybe Oregon's durable goods production had a significant decline while the national average was increasing. If so, why didn't the economists or the reporter mention that anomaly and give insight on why Oregon is so much different than the rest of the nation?

Going to the Oregon Employment Department site one finds that durable goods manufacturing did lose 400 jobs in June, but was not Oregon's biggest job loser by a long shot.

1. Wholesale trade lost a whopping 1,100 jobs in June--almost three times as many as durable goods manufacturing.
2. Professional and technical services lost 700 jobs in June--almost twice that of durable goods manufacturing.
3. Financial activities lost 600 jobs in June--one and a half times durable goods manufacturing.
4. Trade, transportation, and utilities lost 500 jobs in June--one a quarter times durable goods manufacturing.

Sigh. What does it say when you can do a better job on the story yourself with just a few minutes of work (go to Bureau of Labor Statistics report, go to Oregon Employment Department report, do an internet search on durable goods manufacturing)?

One thing independent research doesn't do is bolster confidence that reading an article from a major US newspaper like the Oregonian gives real insight or that professional reporters do much questioning of the accuracy of unnamed sources.

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