On unemployment, President Trump’s remarks are on target

President Donald Trump has received an enormous amount of criticism — much of it justified — for some of his off-the-cuff comments. One, about unemployment in the United States, was right on target, however.

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the nation’s unemployment rate had dropped to 4.7 percent during former President Barack Obama’s administration. Trump called that “a phony number.”

It is. We have no doubt the BLS reported an accurate statistic as derived from the formula accepted by the federal government for calculating unemployment. But, as we have pointed out for years, the formula itself is flawed badly.

For one thing, it does not take into account people who have become so frustrated in looking for work that they have given up the search.

A much more accurate picture of joblessness can be gained from another statistic, the workforce participation number. In essence, it is the percentage of working-age Americans who actually have jobs. It has been decreasing since 2000 — but began a sustained nosedive in 2009, when Obama took office.

In February, the U.S. labor force participation rate had sunk to 63 percent — down three full points during Obama’s tenure. More than 7.5 million working-age adults did not have jobs.

So while the unemployment rate report may have been accurate, it was far from the full truth.

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