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The Unemployment Figure Is A 'Big Lie'

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

WASHINGTON - For the past six years of the Obama economy, I've been telling readers that the administration has been juggling its job data to make the unemployment rates look much lower than they really are.


Now, Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of the respected Gallup Poll organization, has written a blistering broadside on the devious ways President Obama's Department of Labor defines its monthly job numbers that he calls "The Big Lie."

The numbers do not count millions of Americans who want and need full-time jobs but are not defined as among the unemployed -- and that, as Clifton knows well, remains the chief reason why the jobless rate has fallen.

Yet, Obama has been going around the country crowing about the unemployment rate falling into the mid-5 percent range, down from its10 percent peak in October of 2009. The declining jobless rate proves his policies were working and had pulled the economy out of its deep recession, he claims.

The nightly network news shows have been among his principal accomplices and cheerleaders in this shady con-job.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data-gathering arm of the Labor Department, reported that the unemployment rate in January came in at 5.6 percent. Sounds good, you say?

But Clifton tells us "something many Americans -- including some of the smartest and most educated among us -- don't know. The official unemployment rate…is extremely misleading."

"Right now, we're hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is 'down,'" he says.


However, "None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you've stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn't count you as unemployed.

"That's right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news," he adds.

"Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren't throwing parties to toast 'falling' unemployment, Clifton says.

But the government's statistical, sleight-of-hand tricks don't stop there in this administration's numbers-hiding shell game. Many others are uncounted, too.

"Say you're an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work a week and are paid at least $20… you're not officially counted as unemployed in the much reported 5.6 percent. Few Americans know this."

Another labor survey scandal that doesn't get much if any attention in the news media: "Those working part time but wanting full-time work," Clifton explains. "If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn't count you in the 5.6 percent," he goes on to say.


Jim Clifton's organization has long been in the business of taking daily tracking surveys, including polls to produce its own unemployment rate. Gallup's surveys of workers 18 and older put the real unemployment rate at 7 percent and the underemployment rate at a whopping 16 percent.

So when he reads glowing accounts in the newspapers about the declining unemployment rate -- without reporting any of the underhanded caveats in the phony figures put out by the BLS -- he was furious and frustrated.

So much so that he decided to go public with his anger and call a spade a spade.

"There's no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie," he said.

"And it's a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory," he said.

Another figure that hardly ever gets mentioned in the nightly news -- and never by Obama's Democratic allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere -- is the shrinking size of the U.S. labor force.

One of the ways we measure the health of our economy is by the percentage of adult, working age Americans who are employed. "Right now, [the economy] is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44 percent, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older," Clifton says.


Ordinarily, when the CEO of the nation's top polling organization charges that the numbers being cited by the president of the United States have been cooked and are not to be believed, it would be big news.

It would be a scandal, of course, if the occupant in the White House were a Republican.

Yet, not surprisingly, the three major news networks ignored Clifton's "big lie" story.

But the American people know when they are being lied to about the the job market getting "better and better", as CBS News anchor Scott Pelley said about the latest job report without challenging any of its dubious data.

In 2014, Obama's economy grew at a dismally weak 2.4 percent, and created relatively few full-time jobs when compared to the explosive recoveries in the 1980s or the late 1990s.

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