Brooks falsely claimed that under Reagan "unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

On PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks falsely claimed that "in the Reagan years, unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent."

On the March 17 broadcast of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks falsely claimed that "in the Reagan years, unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent."

In fact, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1981, Ronald Reagan's first year in office, the U.S. average unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent. During Reagan's presidency, it reached a high of 9.7 percent, and had declined to a level of 5.5 percent when Reagan left office. The rate from when Reagan entered office through his last year declined by 2.1 points, far less than the eight-point drop for which Brooks credited Reagan.

From the March 17 broadcast of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer:

BROOKS: I disagree a little. I think most people who call themselves independent are really partisan. They're just lying.

And -- and I think partisanship -- one of the things political science shows is that partisan shapes the reality you choose to see.

People choose the reality that -- that flatters their partisanship. For example, in the Reagan years, unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent. If you asked Democrats, at the end of that, did unemployment go up or down under Reagan, 60 percent said it went up. Republicans said down.

You choose the reality you want to see. And, then, the Clinton years, when you had the reverse, this time, it was the Republicans' turn to be more pessimistic and wrong. People choose the reality that flatters themselves.

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
PBS
Person
David Brooks
Show/Publication
PBS NewsHour
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