MSNBC's Watkins falsely claimed that "unemployment is at an all-time low ... the lowest it's been in decades"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

On MSNBC Live, Joe Watkins falsely claimed, "No matter what you think about the current administration, at least unemployment is at an all-time low. It's at 5 percent, and some points, less than 5 percent, which has been the lowest it's been in decades." In fact, the current unemployment rate is 5.5 percent, more than double the lowest measured unemployment rate of 2.5 percent, which was recorded in both May and June of 1953.

On the June 17 edition of MSNBC Live, MSNBC political analyst Rev. Joe Watkins falsely claimed, "No matter what you think about the current administration, at least unemployment is at an all-time low. It's at 5 percent, and some points, less than 5 percent, which has been the lowest it's been in decades." Anchor Tamron Hall replied, "Yeah, but that doesn't mean the economy's in good shape." In fact, the current unemployment rate -- which is at 5.5 percent nationally, according to a June 6 release by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) -- is more than double the lowest recorded unemployment rate since 1948, and 1.3 percentage points higher than it was when President Bush took office in January 2001.

According to the BLS, the lowest unemployment rate since 1948 was 2.5 percent in both May and June of 1953. The unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in January 2001.

From the BLS' unemployment rate history page:

BLS Unemployment Rate

From the 12 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on June 17:

HALL: Well, I mean, Joe, you stand out -- you're bringing up the [former president Jimmy] Carter thing, and we talked a lot about this last week -- if it's going to be the next term for President Carter or the next term for Bush-Cheney. And it seems like we're back at these same kinds of conversations when it comes to taxes and what's happening with this economy.

WATKINS: Well, at the end of the day, what you don't want to do is, you don't want to -- when the -- especially if the economy looks like it's in a slump, you don't want to create a disincentive for business to succeed because business is how you hire people. And the whole idea is to make sure that the rate of unemployment stays low.

No matter what you think about the current administration, at least unemployment is at an all-time low. It's at 5 percent, and some points, less than 5 percent, which has been the lowest it's been in decades, and --

HALL: Yeah, but that doesn't mean the economy's in good shape.

WATKINS: Well, no. And so you want to do everything that you can to invigorate the economy and get people back to work, put more money in the pockets --

HALL: Right.

WATKINS: -- of average working Americans, and that's what John McCain is talking about doing.

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
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