CBS TV — Kennedy on the Labor Market & Unemployment

In a 1963 Labor Day interview with Walter Cronkite, President Kennedy discusses his position on handling the labor market of the United States with around 4 million unemployed (about 5.5% at the time). Kennedy notes that the growing labor force in the United States requires that if the US wants to “stand still,” they still need to move very fast. Kennedy’s main policy focus at the time was retraining workers who had been displaced by technology and making sure that significant amount of workers have the necessary education to handle the growing workforce.

Kennedy also speaks to the lost jobs in “hardcore unemployed” industries like coal and steel and how it’s important to make sure those workers are retrained because those workers are no longer needed. He then laments that there’s a different issue with older workers replaced by technology and younger workers who don’t have the education to handle that technology. Kennedy ends this portion of the interview with a very powerful quote about the fear of automation:

Too many people coming into the labor market, too many machines are throwing people out.

You can view the entire interview, courtesy of the Kennedy Presidential Library, on YouTube.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — Two Jobs Gaffe

 

In an interview segment discussing the economy, primarily the unemployment rate, Ocasio-Cortez dismissed claims that the economy is strong because of a historically low unemployment rate because “unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family.”

The issue with this claim is, namely, that the unemployment rate does not distinguish between the number of hours that people are working, nor the number of jobs they hold. While there are a narrow set of rules to be considered unemployed, only about 5% of Americans currently hold multiple jobs:

While politicians routinely make mistakes regarding the economy (1, 2), this gaffe is particularly note-worthy because Ocasio-Cortez holds a bachelors degree in economics from Boston University.

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