White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not want to settle on what the unemployment rate was during an exchange with a reporter during Monday’s press briefing.
Spicer was asked point blank, “What is the national unemployment rate?”
He responded by citing that there are “several versions” put out by the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
The press secretary later said that President Donald Trump “sees people that are hurting” and “it’s not just a number to him, adding the president is “not focused on statistics” but “if people are doing better off.”
“I think that’s where his head is at,” he said, adding that previously “it’s been about what number we’re looking at instead of what face we’re looking at.”
The Bureau of Labour Statistics classifies people are unemployed if they do not have a job, are available to work, and have sought jobs within the past month. It does not count retirees, students, caretakers, and people who are not seeking work as being a part of the labour force, of which the unemployment rate is calculated from.
For January, the national unemployment rate was 4.7%. The labour force participation rate was 62.7 per cent.
Trump has previously doubted the validity of the unemployment rate, saying in early December during an Iowa rally that it is “totally fiction.”
“If you look for a job for six months and then you give up, they consider you give up,” he said. “You just give up. You go home. You say, ‘Darling, I can’t get a job.’ They consider you statistically employed. It’s not the way. But don’t worry about it because it’s going to take care of itself pretty quickly.”
During the campaign, he said the unemployment rate was really 42%, which obviously was including the millions of people who are not counted as a part of the labour force.
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