THE GOP RESPONSE TO OBAMA'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS WAS THAT "10% OF THE AMERICAN POPULATION CANT FIND WORK". ISN'T THIS STATEMENT INACCURATE?IS THIS STATEMENT FAULTY? I MEAN THE UNEMPLOYMENT...

THE GOP RESPONSE TO OBAMA'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS WAS THAT "10% OF THE AMERICAN POPULATION CANT FIND WORK". ISN'T THIS STATEMENT INACCURATE?

IS THIS STATEMENT FAULTY? I MEAN THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE SHOULD BE 10% OF THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO WORK ARE UNEMPOLYED. WAS HE OVERSTATING THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE TO MAKE THE DEMOCRATS LOOK BAD?

5 Answers | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The previous answers were quite lucid.  Certainly, the Republican claim of double digit unemployment is fairly strong.  The semantics and exact wording of it has already been debated.  The mention of it is trying to embarrass the Democrats and the President.  However, when the current economic crisis was starting to emerge, the Republicans were in office and the Democrats were doing to same to them.  Economic cycles cut across party lines and partisanship, and as it goes through its periods of contraction, the party in power is always going to be blamed for it.  Rarely does one see a political party that is not in power say, "We understand that this is the nature of capitalism and is not the party in control's fault."  To do this would be to lose power and the ability to galvanize support.  It seems rather unique that a party that has always sought to cleave to the forces that generate wealth and employment is now taking a very Populist stance and attempting to tap into the anger of the unemployed and economically dispossessed in its hope to gain power.  Strange times indeed whent the GOP becomes the voice of the unemployed and economically challenged.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with the answer above.  Other things to consider as far as the accuracy of the statement goes could also include the fact that 6% is considered a good (and even necessary) unemployment rate, so 10% is only 4% higher than it is in good times.

The number 10% is also psychological, and often referred to as "double digit" unemployment because it sounds worse.  For Republicans, there is no need to inflate the number, since 10% has the effect they want in terms of trying to tie the current economic recession to the Obama administration.  While it is a political tactic on their part, I wouldn't call it inaccurate or misleading to emphasize the current statistics.

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

If you think about it, that 10% (at the time, now it's 9.7) unemployment rate actually reflects the people who are currently collecting unemployment. This doesn't reflect that some people are no longer collecting unemployment because their benefits have run out. Nor does it reflect that some people are too proud to collect unemployment and choose not to ask for it because their spouse or other income makes their conditions livable. They choose not to rip off the government. On the other hand, this could be inaccurate as some people will work 'under the table' and collect cash payments for services rendered and collect unemployment at the same time.

Many folks choose not to get jobs when their unemployment pay is more than what they could get for working. This is a scary case, but very real right now.

Yes, the GOP's claim was semantically wrong, but essentially the truth. People are struggling finding jobs at the wage they used to receive.

Top Answer

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

You are absolutely right from an economic point of view.  When the unemployment rate is 10%, that does not in any way mean that 10% of all Americans are out of work.  Instead, it means that 10% of the labor force (people who want to work) cannot find jobs.

However, I do not think that this is a case of willfully trying to make the President look bad.  Instead, I think it is just a case of trying to put things in terms that people will be more likely to understand.  When I teach econ, I always have trouble with students not understanding what the unemployment rate means.  It's my job to go ahead and explain it, but it really isn't the Republicans' job to do so.

I think it is really more of a case of not wanting to bore people with being technically correct.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

I do not have the statistical data to judge whether the figure of 10% in GOP response was accurate. However, when it comes to the controversy about definition of unemployment rate and whether it is same as "percentage of people who can't find work", my views are as follows. People who want to work are the only people who look for work, and they are the only people who may or may not find work. Therefore, unemployment rate may also be described as percentage of people who cant find work. Thus the statement of GOP is not wrong in terms of choice of words used.

We’ve answered 318,912 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question