Donald Trump may have a semantics issue when it comes to unemployment, or he may not understand the difference between “unemployed” as referred to by the United States Labor Bureau, and “not working” which is a different socioeconomic issue. The term “unemployed” refers to those who are actively looking and are available to work but have not found a job. People who are not working may be doing so because they have given up looking for a job, they don’t wish to work, they are a student, they are ill and seeking disability, or any combination. Why this is important is because the latter category does not factor into the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate refers only to those who are actively seeking but cannot find work.
Some may argue that it’s of little significance, but on a macroeconomic scale it is of major importance. The stay at home mother, who is living well due to her husband’s income, is not working, but she is not in the same category as a struggling unemployed 30-year-old single woman looking for work and about to be evicted. That’s why discernment between the two is necessary. However, Donald Trump made a statement that has some people wondering if he understands the difference between the two.
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According to The Washington Post, Donald Trump made the statement that “fifty-eight percent of black youth are unemployed.” A quick fact check at the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that number is actually nineteen percent, a significant difference from what he stated. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway was asked about the discrepancy by Chris Wallace yesterday on Fox News Sunday.
“But, Kellyanne, that totally misrepresents what blacks face in this country. Trump says black youth unemployment is 58 percent. It’s actually 19 percent. Twenty-six percent of blacks live in poverty. That’s not good. But the vast majority do not. How can Trump address the problem when he doesn’t seem to understand what it really is?”
Kellyanne Conway answered the question in what some believe was a vague manner.
“So as I understand it, Chris, the 58 percent refers to the number of African-American youth who are not working.”
The reason this is a problematic discrepancy is that there’s no definition of youth — it could refer to high school sophomores or to people who have graduate degrees and are not able to find work. Discerning between the two is vital to be able to gauge the economic well-being of a society. Does Donald Trump understand the difference?
After the Washington Post had published the fact check of the “fifty-eight percent unemployed” claim, Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump stopped citing it with that terminology. Instead, they are talking about “fifty-eight percent of black youth who are not working.” For statistical purposes, “youth” is referring to those who are between sixteen and 24 years old, a time when many youths would be in high school or college.
While Chris Wallace called out the semantics issue, which some believe is simply Donald Trump’s purposeful “spin” on the situation, he did not specifically address Conway about the misleading nature of the statement.
In fact, Asian youth have the highest rate of youth who are not working, at sixty-three percent, but the lowest rate of those who are unemployed, at 9.6 percent. White youth are right behind them with an unemployment rate of ten percent. The fact that the black youth unemployment rate is nearly double that of white youth is troubling and needs to be examined, but first Trump must truly understand the difference between unemployed and not working, and why those differences matter to the United States.
What do you think — did Donald Trump misspeak, or was he spinning things for political reasons?
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