POLITICS

Ben Carson: You Can 'Make The Unemployment Rate Anything You Want It To Be'

05/04/2015 02:56 pm ET

WASHINGTON -- Newly declared Republican presidential contender Ben Carson says you shouldn't trust the Obama administration when it says the nation's unemployment rate stands at only 5.5 percent.

"Many of these people buy -- hook, line and sinker -- the idea that our economy is getting much better and that the unemployment rate is down to 5.5 percent," the famed neurosurgeon told supporters at Monday's campaign announcement in Detroit.

"You know what? If the unemployment rate was down to 5.5 percent, our economy would be humming," he added. "But obviously it's not ... what you have to know is that you can make the unemployment rate anything you want it to be based on what numbers you include and what numbers you exclude. You have to look at the labor force participation rate."

The labor force participation rate, or the number of people who have or are seeking a job, is at 62.5 percent -- a 37-year low. Many Americans have simply given up on finding employment in the aftermath of the 2008 recession, a point Republicans make every time President Barack Obama touts signs of a surging economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics explains the statistic primarily by citing the aging baby-boom generation and its steady exit from the workforce.

Carson, however, blamed "slick politicians and biased media" for trying to "convince you that everything is wonderful when your eyes tell you something different."

Carson isn't the only potential presidential contender to question the official measure of employment. In January, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Americans couldn't trust the official unemployment rate because it was "massaged" and "doctored." Unemployment trutherism also famously made an appearance during the 2012 presidential campaign, when former General Electric CEO Jack Welch accused the Obama team of cooking the books to ensure his re-election.

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