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Dan Primack Jan 23, 2017
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New data on the 'real' unemployment rate

Pablo Martinex Monsivais / AP

White House press secretary Sean Spicer today was asked if President Trump stands by his unsubstantiated claims last fall that America's real unemployment figure could be upwards of 42% and, if not, what figure the Administration would use as an employment baseline.

Spicer punted, instead saying: "Too often in Washington we get our heads wrapped around a number, a statistic... For too long it's been about what number are we looking at rather than what face are we looking at."

The reality, however, is that employment numbers matter a lot. Not just for political talking points, but also for determining economic policy. Moreover, today we got updated data from the Richmond Fed, which regularly calculates an alternative unemployment rate that is higher than the official figure of 4.7%, but still well below Trump's 42% doomsday.