Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that the unemployment rate in the U.S. may be 42 percent during his victory speech on Feb. 9 in New Hampshire where he won the state's GOP primary (video below).
"I am going to be the greatest jobs president that God ever created, remember that!" Trump stated, notes Vox. "Don't believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 percent and 5 percent unemployment. The number's probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent. Do you have think if we had 5 percent unemployment, do you really think we'd have these gatherings?"
Trump made a similar claim in 2015, which Poltifact traced back to a column by former Reagan budget director David Stockman who calculated that 210 million Americans (ages 16 to 68) was a "plausible measure of the potential workforce."
Stockman opined that if they were all able to work full-time jobs then that would come to 420 billion working hours, in comparison to the 240 billion working hours reported in 2014 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"[T]he real unemployment rate was 42.9 percent," Stockman opined.
However, Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution, told Politifact that Stockman "... treats people voluntarily working part-time hours as partly unemployed, even if they have excellent reasons for wanting to hold only a part-time job, such as rearing children, attending school or college, being disabled, or transitioning into retirement."
"A lot of the shortfall between full-time and part-time employment is perfectly reasonable, as is a potential worker’s decision not to work or look for paid work at all," Burtless added.
Politifact gave Trump's statement a "Pants on Fire" rating, while The Washington Post awarded it "Four Pinocchios" and called it "absurd," but Trump's supporters cheered him on in New Hampshire.