COMMENTS: Lost Jobs

After four straight days of Campaign 2008 hogging the headlines, the week ended with the economy as Story of the Day. The Labor Department reported that the national workforce shrank in January, losing 17,000 jobs. This was the first monthly decline in employment since 2003, 52 months ago. CBS led with the labor market. ABC led with the economy too--a business story as Microsoft, the computer software firm, launched a $45bn takeover bid for Yahoo!, the Internet portal and search engine. NBC decided to kick off with campaign coverage, summarizing the highlights of Thursday night's CNN Democratic debate in Hollywood.

CBS' Anthony Mason showed us the labor market statistics since October and concluded that "the trend line is alarming." ABC's Betsy Stark (embargoed link) singled out construction, financial services, state governments and manufacturing as the weakest sectors for hiring, with healthcare remaining robust "thanks to an aging population." From the White House, NBC's Savannah Guthrie noted that President George Bush had repeatedly emphasized that continuing growth in the labor force is "a sign that the economy was fundamentally strong. Well! Tonight that winning streak is over." For the manufacturing sector, Guthrie added, the streak never started: "Nearly 4m jobs have been lost in the last decade."


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