Sean Spicer said the President continues to believe that the unemployment percentage was “manipulated” because, the White House spokesman said, surveys to determine the unemployment rate discarded those who were looking for work after a certain length of time.
Spicer was originally asked about the director of the Office of Management and Budget, who said Sunday that “the Obama administration was manipulating the numbers in terms of the number of people in the workforce to make the unemployment rate, that percentage rate, look smaller than it actually was.”
Spicer dodged that question, but said that the President believed that the unemployment percentage was “manipulated” because of how the government counts those who have been jobless for an extended period of time.
“To look at a number and say we have 4.7 or 4.8 or 5.9 percent unemployment is not necessarily an accurate reflection of how many people are actually working, seeking work or want to work. And if you know how they conduct those surveys, there’s a lot of times where people, whether they’re older or younger, or because of how long they’ve been searching for work, are not considered statistically viable anymore, and they’re quashed away,” Spicer said. “How you look at the percentage of people working can sometimes be a a manipulated number. The number of people that are added to the rolls every month is a much more accurate understanding of what’s happening in the economy.”
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes various measures for employment, including those who have been looking for work unsuccessfully, for example, for 15 weeks or longer. They produce several different unemployment numbers based on who is included in their count of the total working and unemployed population.
“The bottom line is the percentage of people who are unemployed varies widely by who you’re asking and the way you do the analysis of who is actually in the workforce,” Spicer added later.
On Friday, after the release of a favorable jobs report, Spicer was asked if Trump thought the report was accurate.
“I talked to the President prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly,” Spicer responded. “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”