Fox News host: The new unemployment numbers “not intriguing … we should talk about how many people are working”

Brian Kilmeade: “I'd rather find out the 20% that are still on their jobs, how lucky we are to be doing this.”

Video file

Citation From the April 3, 2020, edition of Fox News Fox & Friends

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): And we have a Fox News alert. The March jobs report is out, and it is not good. It shows that 701,000 jobs were lost, the unemployment is at 4.4%.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): That's exactly right. Let's bring in Stuart Varney, host of Varney & Co. on Fox Business Network. Stuart, what's your reaction to this?

STUART VARNEY (FOX BUSINESS HOST): Okay, let me repeat those numbers, because they are indeed pretty bad. We lost 701,000 jobs in the month of March, and the unemployment rate went up to 4.4%. Now that's bad, but it doesn't really paint a true picture of the employment market as we speak. This survey week for the March jobs report was early in the month of March, so it didn't really capture the full impact of the virus on our economy. So you can expect later in April, these jobless numbers will go way up. Perhaps a better indicator of the true state of employment is the fact that 10 million people applied for jobless benefits just in the last two weeks. And I might add that Maria was just told by a Fed governor — Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business — that the unemployment rate now is actually closer to 10% already. And by the way, we've got a big investment firm, Morgan Stanley, suggesting that the economy, between now and June, will shrink by 38%. Now that is dire, indeed.

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): All right, so Stuart, in 2008 these numbers were intriguing because we wanted to find out how the banking system was going to repair itself, how many people were affected, and how to fix it with TARP. Now these are not intriguing. This is a self-inflicted wound, it's a slow-motion car wreck that we brought on ourselves because we've been told this is the only way to do it. We should be reversing — we should talk about how many people are working, because the number's going to get terrible. This is only going to reinforce what was demanded by our government and the world body — that we stop working, stop talking to each other, stop being productive, stop going to gyms, stop going out to dinner. So to me, I'm even surprised — I'd rather find out the 20% that are still on their jobs, how lucky we are to be doing this. We're an anomaly now.

VARNEY: Look, that makes a fair point, Brian, but you can't sugarcoat exactly where we are. The government has ordered a shutdown of the economy, on medical grounds, and there will be an enormous political battle when we start to see that curve bending in the right direction. When that happens, there will be a political battle as to how soon we relax these stay-at-home orders. That'll be a monumental battle, because people who care about the economy and the damage being done to the economy will want to open it up again as soon as possible. On the other side, you're goin to have people who say, “Look, you open up the economy, you open up the stay-at-home rules too soon and you'll have a second wave of the virus go through with even more damage.” There's a political battle coming, and it's based on the state of the economy — which at this point, Brian, is dire, flat out, on its back, dire situation.