Citing A Former Reagan Staffer’s Blog, Limbaugh Claims The Unemployment Rate Is Really 42.9%

Citing A Former Reagan Staffer’s Blog, Limbaugh Claims The Unemployment Rate Is Really 42.9%

Just like clockwork, after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs numbers, walking bag of Crisco Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves to point out that the economy is totally abysmal and that the unemployment rate is a complete sham. On Thursday morning, the BLS showed that the economy had gained 223,000 jobs in the month of June and the unemployment rate had dipped to 5.3%, the lowest it has been since April 2008, months before the financial crisis that rocked the world’s economy. Of course, sayer of only true and unbiased things Limbaugh informed his audience of the real job numbers by citing a former Reagan lackey’s blogpost.

After quoting Thursday’s job figures, Limbaugh quoted a recent post made by former Reagan Administration budget officer David Stockman in making his case that not only is the unemployment rate exaggerated to make President Obama look better, but it is criminally so.

From the show’s transcript:


“Let me get this unemployment thing out of the way.  It’s fascinating.  Just talked about this yesterday or the day before.  David Stockman’s website where he assessed the actual US unemployment rate at 42.9 percent.  Based on the number of labor hours available to be worked at a 40-hour workweek.  Based on the labor force participation rate, which is the smallest its been in 38 years now.

We’re very, very close to actually 93 million Americans not in the workforce, and they are not counted in the unemployment statistics for the most part.  Most of them are not counted because most of them have been out of work for so long they’re no longer looking for work.  And if you’re out of work and not looking for any, you don’t get counted as unemployment.

How about this? How about this? I’m through with the jobs numbers.  The jobs numbers are bogus.  We lost twice as many jobs last month as were created.  The unemployment rate is 42%.  It is not 5.3%.  The economy isn’t growing.  There’s nothing better today than it was in the last two years of the Clinton administration.  Nothing!  Everything is worse, including public attitude.  You just can’t find it because people are afraid to express it.”


Couple of things here. First off, if the “real” unemployment rate was 42.9% and things were as apocalyptic as El Rushbo is making them out to be, then there would be full-on riots in the streets and crime would be at such a rate that the United States would seem like a third-world country with absolutely no infrastructure or law and order. People could even leave their houses due to utter fear for their lives. So, let’s pump the brakes on this kind of shit, OK?

Second, it should be noted that the person telling us how fucking godawful it is right now under Dictator Maobama currently works three hours a day while speaking into a gold microphone, all from the comfort of his well-guarded mansion. Yes, this man can certainly speak from experience about how tough it is living in Obama’s America. This person can completely relate with the salt of the earth Americans living hand to mouth. He knows the struggle.

Anyway, back to the 42.9% figure that Rush tossed around on Thursday. He actually brought it up the day before in anticipation of the unemployment rate dropping. Stockman made the super super leap of logic regarding his “real” unemployment rate by taking the number of Americans between the ages of 16 and 68 — 210 million — and multiplying that by 40 hours a week to come up with the number of total labor hours we should have in this country. He then took the actual number of labor hours being worked and, voila, 42.9% unemployment rate!

Yes, that is exactly what he did. Below is an excerpt from his blogpost:


At the present time, there are 210 million adult Americans between the ages of 16 and 68—to take a plausible measure of the potential work force. That amounts to 420 billion potential labor hours, if we accept the convention that all adults are at least theoretically capable of holding a full-time job (2,000 hours/year) and pulling their share of society’s need for production and work effort.

By contrast, during 2014 only 240 billion hours were actually supplied to the US economy, according to the BLS estimates. Technically, therefore, there were 180 billion unemployed labor hours, meaning that the real unemployment rate was 42.9%, not 5.5%!

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.


Notice how Stockman tossed in that little aside about how we can allow for stay-at-home wives, students, retirees and disabled people, just as we have to consider welfare queens, lazy assholes and criminals. But, obviously these people shouldn’t account for most of the 42.9%, right?

The thing is, in can make the case for the unemployment rate not being indicative of the job situation in this country as a whole. There are obviously people stuck in working situations that are less than desirous or, based on their skillset and location, unable to find employment. And yes, there are people that have just “given up” on finding work. Also, wage stagnation is a real thing. At the same time, are we really going to just make shit up out of whole cloth just to prove that the Obama economy totally sucks? Especially considering what he was faced with when he took office?

Shit, if we were to use Stockman’s technique under other administrations, we would likely see similar results. We’d probably see much higher rates up through the 1980s due to the fact that most two-parent households only had one job. Also, just flippantly claiming that students and early retirees may cause some of the discrepancies is some willfully obtuse bullshit. College enrollment has continued to climb through the years, and we are in the middle of a large retirement surge from Baby Boomers. Add in the fact that many households are going back to the one breadwinner model, and it isn’t that difficult to see how we arrive at today’s labor participation rate.

But, according to Limbaugh and Stockman, what we really have are just tens of millions of people sitting around completely hopeless and penniless, unbelievably destitute with nary a job in sight. Soup lines are apparently miles long, food riots must be gripping every major city and mass suicides have to be rocking this nation. Right? Well, even though Rush knows for a fact that we are circling the drain to financial oblivion, someone has somehow found a way to pay him $400 million to sit on his fat ass and bloviate for a couple hours every weekday (unless he’s on vacation). 

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona

Justin Baragona is the founder/publisher of Contemptor and a contributor to The Daily Beast. He was previously the Cable News Correspondent for Mediaite and prior to starting Contemptor, he worked on the editorial staff of PoliticusUSA. During that time, he had his work quoted by USA Today and BBC News, among others. Justin began his published career as a political writer for 411Mania. He resides in St. Louis, MO with his wife and pets.