New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was called out by The Washington Post for grossly misstating unemployment statistics during a speech on Wednesday.
During a speech at National Action Network Conference, Gillibrand appeared to either be working off bad research or was simply ad-libbing numbers.
“When they declare victory at 4 percent unemployment, it is not good enough. Because 4 percent unemployment means an 8 or 9 percent unemployment in some cities for black women,” Gillibrand said, according to The Washington Post.
“It means a 16 percent unemployment rate for black men,” she continued. “It means young veterans coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan, a 20 percent unemployment rate. So our work really isn’t done.”
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler pointed out that Gillibrand, who is expected to run for president in 2020, was attempting to address one of President Donald Trump’s greatest achievements — low unemployment rates — and downplay it.
The senator’s statement that unemployment was 3.7 percent, an almost 50 year low, was accurate.
However, the statistics she then listed were incorrect.
The Post gave the senator the benefit of the doubt, speaking with Gillibrand spokesman Alex Phillips, who told The Post that the senator had accidentally omitted the word “young” from her speech.
The Post went on to break down the statistics, assuming Gillibrand had indeed intended to say “young African-American women,” etc.
The Post compared Gillibrand’s numbers to those recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that the unemployment rate for African-American men is 6.2 percent and African-American women is 4.9 percent.
Using the “young” qualifier, the rate for African-American men and women ages 18-24 was 16.4 percent combined and 8.4 percent respectively, The Post reported.
This portion was almost correct since the senator said that unemployment was “8 or 9 percent for black women,” if she did truly intend to say “young” and accidentally omitted it.
However, she doubled the number for young black men, when she said that unemployment is at 16 percent, when in fact, it’s close to 8 percent.
The BLS data for “young veterans” was designated for “Gulf War-era II veterans” ages 18 to 24 and showed that October unemployment for that group to be at 12.6 percent, not the 20 percent figure that Gillibrand said it was.
Phillips admitted that Gillibrand said 20 percent because, “she misspoke the stat off the cuff,” but qualified that “her point remains unchanged.”
The Post ended its assessment of what they called “Gillibrand’s cascade of misfired employment statistics” with this note: “Regular readers know that we generally do not award Pinocchios when a politician admits error. We certainly can understand a slip of the tongue, but it is never a clever idea to try to ad-lib a statistic.”
“Somehow, Gillibrand managed to mangle three statistics in three consecutive sentences before a large audience. If you are trying to make the case that you can provide better economic stewardship, you need to get the numbers right first.”