June Jobs Figures Crush Kamala Harris’s Claim That People Are Forced to Work Multiple Jobs

CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA - JUNE 09: Democratic presidential candidate and California senator Kamala Harris speaks to supporters at the Iowa Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner on June 9, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nearly all of the 23 Democratic candidates running for president were campaigning in Iowa this weekend. …
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Democrats may need to find a new line of attack against the strong labor market that has prevailed during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The share of working Americans holding multiple jobs rose to 5.1 percent in June, or 5.2 percent seasonally adjusted, but remained close the post-recession average of around 5 percent. That record was 4.7 percent and was hit in November 2013 through January 2014, April and May 2015, and October 2017.

Arguably, however, the June number is more impressive than any of those because overall employment is at a record high and unemployment much lower.  The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in November 2013, for example, was 6.6 percent. Today it is 3.7 percent. So when the record lows were being set during Obama’s presidency, there were far more people unemployed alongside those holding multiple jobs. The labor market was just worse for workers.

That hurts the credibility of Democrats like Senator Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who have argued that Trump’s economy is weaker than it seems because so many Americans are forced to hold multiple jobs to make ends meet.

“Well yeah people in America are working — they’re working two and three jobs,” Harris said on the second night of Democratic primary debates.

I’m meeting people who are working two and three jobs — you know this president walks around talking about and flouting his great economy right — my great economy, my great economy … You ask him how are you measuring the greatness of this economy of yours? And they point to the jobless numbers and the unemployment numbers. Well yeah people in America are working — they’re working two and three jobs.

Harris has made that false claim on a number of occasions in recent months. Similar claims have been made by Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez made the same claim a year ago.

“Well, unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs,” Ocasio-Cortez said on PBS’s Firing Line.

The repetition of the falsehood suggests that Democrats are struggling to find truthful ways to attack Trump’s economic performance, which garners high approval ratings in surveys of public opinion.

Correction: An earlier version of this report misstated the June number for multiple jobs. The correct figure is 5.2 percent of the workforce not 4.8 percent.

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