By Peter Schroeder
January 19, 2017
Steven Mnuchin dismissed the sharp decline in the unemployment rate as “not real,” arguing that the average American still hasn’t felt anything from the economic recovery.
Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee Thursday, Mnuchin said that his travels with President-elect Donald Trump have changed his perspective and argued the nation’s needs a new approach.
In so doing, Trump’s pick to head the Treasury Department dismissed the validity of one of the nation’s central economic guideposts, which currently sits at 4.7 percent.
“I absolutely understand why he got elected,” said Mnuchin. “The average American worker has gone absolutely nowhere. The unemployment rate is not real.”
Mnuchin was making a broader point about the struggles of working class Americans that may not be captured by a single economic data point. But his skepticism about the worth of the unemployment rate as a measure of economic health falls in line with previous comments from Trump himself.
On multiple occasions in the past, Trump has dismissed the “phony numbers” reported out by the Labor Department, arguing that the nation’s true jobless rate is much higher.
“The unemployment number, as you know, is totally fiction,” he said at post-election rally in Iowa.
Republicans have argued in the past there should be more focus on alternate ways to measure the nation’s labor market, noting that potential workers that give up searching for a job after six months are no longer counted as unemployed.