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Facts Contradict Administration Claim on Cause of Today’s 9.6% Unemployment Rate

October 14, 2010

Administration Claim 

“The rate of unemployment has stayed high because more people are coming into the job market again,” said Solis. “Those that are discouraged are also looking for jobs again, so that’s what keeps the unemployment rate high.” 

Hilda Solis, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, October 12, 2010


Official U.S. Department of Labor data show that the labor force (which reflects people “in the job market”) has fallen by 243,000 since the Administration’s February 2009 stimulus.  

  • U.S. civilian labor force, February 2009: 154.401 million
  • U.S. civilian labor force, September 2010: 154.158 million

In fact, had the labor force actually grown since the Administration’s stimulus and all those who have either dropped out of the labor force or remained on the sidelines of the job market were counted among the “officially” unemployed, the current unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent:

Sources: January 2009 Romer/Bernstein Report (“Administration Prediction With Stimulus Plan”), actual U.S. Department of Labor data and Ways and Means Republican staff calculations of uncounted unemployed.  The “uncounted unemployed” are defined as unemployed persons not included in official unemployment rate calculations because they are not currently in the labor force, compared with the month Democrats’ stimulus passed (February 2009).  This includes people who quit looking for jobs since stimulus passed and dropped out of the labor force, plus other working-age adults who never entered the labor force, but presumably would have if the labor force participation rate was the same as when stimulus passed.