Late-night comedian Jay Leno jabbed President Obama on Monday, saying the president is encouraging more Americans to stop looking for work in order to lower the unemployment rate.“President Obama said that’s a step in the right direction,” the NBC ”Tonight Show” host joked about the 368,000 people who gave up looking for work in August.
Leno’s joke came following the release of the Department of Labor’s August unemployment statistics, which show the unemployment rate at 8.1 percent, slightly down from 8.3 percent in July. However, the numbers also show a 0.2 percent drop in the labor force participation rate from 63.7 percent in July to 63.5 percent in August, which could account for the 0. 2 percent lower unemployment rate.
Taking underemployment and the number of Americans who have stopped looking for work into account, the number of Americans struggling to find work is much higher than the official 12.5 million. Either way, the Obama campaign should not hang its hat on a slightly lower unemployment rate when people are too depressed by the job situation to even continue looking for work. In the president’s own words, “that’s not good enough.”