An Obama administration cabinet official who has been floated as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton said Friday that Donald Trump is “full of you know what” when it comes to his claims about the true unemployment rate.
“Well, I mean, there’s a reason his name rhymes with ‘dump’…because, you know, he’s really full of you know what,” Labor Sec. Thomas Perez said during an interview with HBO’s Bill Maher.
“‘Shit,’ it’s HBO, you can say it,” Maher said.
“Well, sorry, my mother taught me,” said Perez, who is considered a potential VP pick because he is Hispanic and progressive.
Perez and Maher were discussing the official unemployment rate, which the Labor Department says stands at five percent. But Trump has claimed that the actual unemployment rate is far higher, thanks in part, he says, to the Obama economy.
“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent,” the GOP front-runner said in February.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has also claimed that the actual unemployment rate is higher than official statistics. But he’s said that the real rate is closer to 10 percent.
One measure of unemployment — U-6, as it’s called — sits at around 10 percent. That includes Americans who are actively looking for a job, those who are discouraged from looking for a job, and those who work part-time but would prefer to work full-time.
It’s unclear where Trump’s figures come from. But his central claim is that the federal government grossly undercounts the number of Americans who are either not working or are working fewer hours than they could or should be.
Trump’s 42 percent figure — which has been attributed to an analysis conducted last year by David Stockman, who served as President Reagan’s budget director — fits into the latter category.
Stockman found that Americans between 16 and 68 worked 240 billion hours in 2014. But had all Americans worked 2,000 hours a year — which is considered full-time — they would have clocked 420 billion hours total.
The 180 billion hours left over is 42.9 percent of “full employment,” according to Stockman’s analysis.
Stockman also acknowledged that his analysis includes many Americans who are not currently expected to punch the clock.
“Yes, we have to allow for non-working wives, students, the disabled, early retirees and coupon clippers. We also have drifters, grifters, welfare cheats, bums and people between jobs, enrolled in training programs, on sabbaticals and much else.”
Sounding like Trump, Stockman blamed cheap labor and cultural factors for the massive real unemployment rate.
“What actually drives our current 43% unemployment rate is global economic forces of cheap labor…and dozens of domestic policy and cultural factors that influence the decision to work or not,” he wrote.
Perez, a former civil rights attorney, clearly disagreed with the methodology used to arrive at the 42 percent figure.
“In order to have that we’d have to have my 95-year-old working, we’d have to have my high school sophomore working,” he told Maher.
Trump, who frequently engages his critics, has not yet responded to Perez’s claim that he’s full of bull.