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Survey's In: General Public Has 'Little Factual Knowledge' Regarding Economy, Could Affect The Election

Survey's In: General Public Has 'Little Factual Knowledge' Regarding Economy, Could Affect The Election

A survey conducted by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that 57 percent of the public is under the impression that the economy is a lot worse than it is.

For instance, the unemployment rate stands at 4.9 percent, but almost 30 percent of those surveyed believe the actual unemployment rate is north of 9 percent. This is one example that shows the general public has "extremely little factual knowledge" about the job market and labor force.

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When asked what percentage of workers are part of the union, 40 percent think that union members make up 30 percent of the workforce. The correct answer is just 11 percent of all workers are part of a union.

So what does this have to do with politics?

The Political Connection

It's simple. According to CNN Money, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's chances of winning the election "hinge on whether voters believe the Obama economy is headed in the right direction."

On the other hand, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's slogan of "Make America Great Again" targets those who believe the economy and workforce are worse than they actually are.

Trump has even called the official unemployment rate a "hoax," although there may be some merit to his claims. As noted by Bloomberg, while the unemployment rate does sit below 5 percent, the broader U-6 unemployment measure — which includes discouraged workers and involuntary part-timers — was nearly double in July at 9.7 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who are either working or looking for a job was just 62.8 percent in July.

"Does this mean that the unemployment rate is some sort of 'big lie' or 'hoax,' charges that seem to be coming up ever more frequently?" Bloomberg's Justin Fox asked. "Well, if the unemployment rate is a hoax, it's quite the long-running one."

"Yes, there have been modest shifts through the decades in how unemployment is defined, the last ones in 1994," Fox elaborated. "But if the rate seems less useful now than it once was, that probably has far more to do with changes in the economy and society than with anything the economic statistics-gatherers have done."

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