Watch: How Donald Trump Reached His 58 Percent Unemployment Stat for Black Youth
ABC NEWS —
Donald Trump has claimed several times that 58 percent of African-American youth are unemployed, which is more than double the government’s monthly breakdown.
The discrepancy results from the use of different age groups and different interpretations of “unemployment.”
As for age groups, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down monthly unemployment numbers for people 16 to 19 years old, and then for those 20 and older. The groupings also take into account racial demographics.
So, according to BLS numbers, last month’s unemployment rate among 16- to 19-year-old black Americans was 25.7 percent, adjusted seasonally.
The Trump campaign takes a different view, detailing its methodology for ABC News. Trump economic adviser David Malpass said they started with BLS information from the full year of 2015 and broke out the numbers for 16- to 24-year-old African-Americans, a group that includes many people the federal government counts as adults.
The Trump campaign’s “economic program is intended to improve the labor environment for young Americans, many of whom are getting left out,” Malpass said via email, adding that the campaign’s methodology is more inclusive.
Beyond that, they also include not only people whom the Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies as labor force participants – or the employed and unemployed — but also those not in the labor force, or people who have no job and are not looking for one, such as students. The federal government does not count them, as with retirees.
Then, after dividing that larger number by the population of that age group, the Trump campaign came up with 58.5 percent who were unemployed last year.
The decision to include people who are not in the labor force, by BLS standards, dramatically affects the statistics.
For campaign purposes, Trump did not specify the age group when he mentioned the 58 percent statistic in two different speeches this week and another in July. He just says “58 percent of African-American youth are not employed.”
If the same methodology is used (the same data set and the same 16- to 24-year-old age grouping), but only those the BLS counts in the labor force are included, that would show that 9.8 percent of African-American youth were unemployed last year.
Malpass said the campaign includes those not in the BLS-defined labor force (the unemployed who are not looking for jobs) because that addresses the true state of the economy.
“Many of them would like to work if labor conditions were better,” he told ABC News of people who are not looking for work.
“The official labor force statistics exclude many people who would like to work if there was a better economic environment,” he added. “One goal of the economic program is to strengthen the economy so that more people are attracted into the labor force, especially youths and minorities. They would benefit from the economic reforms, including faster growth, higher wages and more business investment.”
But at least one economist has a different view.
“It’s not proper” to include those not in the labor force in any unemployment statistics, chief U.S. economist Michael Gapen of Barclays told ABC News today.
“It’s not appropriate to include people who are in school as part of the labor force and count them as unemployed,” he said, citing one example. “They’re consciously choosing other activities.”
Evan Vucci/AP Photo