Kamala Harris Echoes Ocasio-Cortez's False Claim Dismissing Low Unemployment Rate

November 2, 2018

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) dismissed the country's low unemployment rate while campaigning in Nevada, echoing a false claim previously made by New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Speaking at a campaign event for Nevada Democratic Senate nominee Jacky Rosen, Harris said those defending the strength of the current economy will point to unemployment numbers, before dismissing the low unemployment rate—which held steady at 3.7 percent in October—as not indicative of the real economic situation for working Americans.

"Well, I'm here to tell you, I've been traveling around the country and I am meeting people everywhere I go. Yeah, they're working. They're working two or three jobs to get through the end of the month. The economy is not working for working people," Harris said.

Harris' comments echo remarks made by Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, in July, when the New York congressional candidate dismissed low unemployment on the grounds that people are working multiple jobs.

"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," Ocasio-Cortez said.

At the time, the fact-checker PolitiFact gave Ocasio-Cortez its worst possible rating for her claim, noting that less than 5 percent of the workforce has two jobs. PolitiFact also said that the percentage of workers with two jobs during Donald Trump's presidency is in line with the Obama years, and lower than it was under both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton's administrations.

PolitiFact also pointed out that the number of people "who might be working 70 or 80 hours a week amount to a tiny percentage of a tiny percentage—310,000 people at most in a pool of employed Americans totaling more than 150 million."

Harris made similar comments last week while speaking in Iowa, prompting the Washington Post fact-checker to raise the same point made by PolitiFact:

The fact of that matter is that relatively few people hold two or more jobs. As of September, only 4.9 percent of employed people had multiple jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (You only get counted once in the unemployment rate calculation no matter how many jobs you hold.)

There are almost 156 million people with jobs. But only 331,000 people had two full-time jobs, according to BLS. Another 4.2 million had both a full-time job and a part-time job, while about 2 million were juggling part-time jobs.