Clint Eastwood's Inflated Unemployment Count
By Chris Isidore
NEW YORK -- Clint Eastwood's biting criticism of President Obama was a big hit with the crowd at the Republican National Convention. But his reading of the nation's unemployment situation missed by a wide margin.
Eastwood's speech on Thursday night mocked supporters of the president like Oprah Winfrey, who cried the night Obama was elected four years ago. "I haven't cried that hard since I found out that there are 23 million unemployed people in this country," Eastwood said. "This administration hasn't done enough to cure that."
But the U.S. Labor Department, which puts out the official government jobs data, counts 12.8 million people as unemployed -- not 23 million.
Even if you add in unemployed people who are not counted in that total because they are not actively looking for work -- a category the Labor Department terms "marginally attached" -- that number rises to just over 15.3 million.
To get to the number Eastwood cited, you need to also count part-time workers who wish they were working full-time. That adds just over 8.2 million. Total: about 23.6 million.
The Romney campaign itself has used the 23 million figure, including in a four-minute campaign video entitled "A few of the 23 million."
The Romney video doesn't explicitly say that the 23 million are unemployed. Instead, it says "millions of Americans are struggling under the Obama economy. Here are a few of their stories." While many of the people in the film are unemployed, some have part-time jobs like digging graves or helping a neighbor's moving business.
The Labor Department reading for January 2009, taken just before Obama took office, found 12 million unemployed, 2.1 million jobless who were not actively looking for work and 8.1 million part-time workers who wanted to be working full-time.
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