While the national unemployment rate is rather low, hovering below 5% for months now, Trump took a different approach to attacking Obama’s economy by singling out “long-term unemployment.” Long-term unemployment is defined as unemployed for 27 weeks or more. He said it is “the worst long-term unemployment in the last 70 years.”
The long-term unemployment rate is more troubling than the rosier 5% unemployment rate. Trump is wrong about that 70 years number, but he’s not far off as 2016 is pretty high historically. Long-term unemployment at the end of June 2016 was not quite 2 million persons in the US. In 1983 it as nearly 3 million people considered long-term unemployed, significantly higher than it is today. So this period is definitely not “the worst.”
“The worst long-term unemployment in the last 70 years” was actually in 2010, as a result of the Great Recession. Six years ago the long-term unemployment rate was more than three times as high as it is right now. Donald Trump didn’t bother to tweet this graph FRED Economic Research, which gives a fuller and more accurate portrayal of the state of long-term unemployment in the US, and the steep downward trajectory of the last six years:
You may be thinking that there is no way that Donald Trump saw that graph, maybe he was just mistaken. Here is a larger snip from his Twitter feed, showing two tweets in a row. He used a graph from the very same firm as the above graph, but that looks bad for the status quo to bolster his claim that house ownership is historically low (it actually is). Unsurprisingly, he left out the above graph that would show that long-term unemployment has dropped drastically in the last six years under the Obama administration.
That is a stark indication that Donald Trump is intentionally cherry picking data to bolster his claim that the economy is doing poorly, though it is at historic highs by almost every other measure. It strains credulity that he saw the unfavorable graph but did not see the favorable graph from FRED and chose to inaccurately pick and choose his data.