The director of the Office of Management and Budget on Sunday indicated that the Obama administration manipulated the monthly unemployment report in order to make the economy look healthier than it actually was.
“What you should really look at is the number of jobs created,” Mick Mulvaney said on CNN after a Friday report showed the economy generated 235,000 jobs in February.
“We’ve thought for a long time, I did, 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,” he said.
Mulvaney said that a measure known a “U6” issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes unemployed Americans who have not sought work in up to a year, is a truer measure of unemployment. “U6” tends to run about five to seven points higher than the more widely quoted unemployment rate, which was 4.7 percent in February.
As a candidate, Trump was skeptical about unemployment numbers, noting that even as the Obama administration cited low unemployment rates, millions of Americas were without jobs. That led to a brief moment of levity Friday when White House press secretary Sean Spicer talked about the February jobs report.
“I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly,” Spicer said. “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”
In a more serious vein, Spicer noted that the report was a positive.
During the first full month of the Trump presidency, the economy added 235,000 new jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate ticked down and labor force participation rate ticked up, showing that even as more people are reentering the job market due to the economic optimism that I spoke about, businesses are continuing to grow and create new jobs,” Spicer said.
Although Spicer said that unemployment numbers rise and fall, February’s job growth was unique because it is accompanied by a new wave of enthusiasm and optimism.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the number of CEOs and businesses come out and talk about investments and continuing investments and the expansion of investments or hiring based on the vision and agenda of an administration the way they have in this one,” he said.
“I think if you look at the automakers, the other manufacturers, and, frankly, some of the service industries that have come out and talked about the investment that they’re going to make, or the continuation of a project that they had going, or the movement of one — of a manufacturing plant or job investment — those speak for themselves,” he said.
“It’s not a question of what we believe. I think it’s a question of the commitment that U.S. manufacturers and job creators and businesses are making because they want to buy into the President’s agenda and vision for creating a more tax and regulatory business-friendly environment to grow here. And I think that those speak for themselves,” Spicer added.