February 10, 2015
By John Zogby
Washington, DC – I am compelled to comment on the recent comments of Jim Clifton, longtime CEO of Gallup, and his recent statements on the "real unemployment rate". In short, Clifton penned an op-ed on the company website referring to the "big lie" of the official Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly unemployment rate.
The 5.7% rate for January he says is woefully inadequate and does not take into account part-time workers, those underemployed, and the hundreds of thousands of others who have simply given up looking for work. The real unemployment is much larger – at least double the official rate, and probably higher.
In all of this, Clifton is absolutely right. The published rate is not only woefully inadequate, it is misleading and dishonest. But the thrust of Clifton's remarks is to suggest that the current administration is perpetrating the lie and purposely using the recent reduction of the overall rate to suggest a recovery that is not really existent. In other words, the Obama administration has fabricated a hoax and continues to spin the "official" statistics for their own benefit.
Conservatives on talk radio and in the blogs are having a field day. The leader of the "iconic Gallup Poll" is speaking the truth. The inaccuracy charge against the official labor statistics is very old news. Truth is that the same set of accounting has always been used. Obviously, the Bureau of Labor Statistics needs a new system, but for now we are comparing apples and apples and should not suggest that movement from a 10% unemployment rate to a 5.7% rate is not real.
I am thankful that the argument has been made again that there is a real unemployment rate. But just remember: this is same official unemployment "rate" that went up under Nixon and Carter, down and up and then down under Reagan, up under Bush 41, down under Clinton, up under Bush 43, then down under Obama.