President Barack Obama may recognize the economy is improving, but in his State of the Union address, he failed to mention the real unemployment rate was much higher than 5.6 percent
reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, said Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Obama said on Tuesday that "our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis," which was in full swing when he took office in 2009.
"I think the best part was the president's recognition that, in fact, we are in much better shape than we were six years ago, when (former President George W.) Bush left office, and when we were losing 700,000 jobs a month.
"I think the weakest part is that there was not a full recognition that, while we have made enormous progress, the reality is that real unemployment is not 5.5 percent. It is 11 percent, including those people who have given up looking for work and are working part time," the Vermont Independent told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Wednesday.
Sanders said the unemployment rate for youth was even higher at 18 percent, and the numbers of people not working were part of a "40-year trajectory (indicating) the American middle class continues to decline." To make improvements "very bold action" is needed by Americans, he said.
"The issue is, can we rally the American people to stand up for the middle class, rather than continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations?" he asked.
Another weak part of Obama's speech included his remarks on trade, Sanders said, adding the administration needed to be transparent to prevent an agreement that would be bad for workers.
"If you have disastrous trade agreements, one after another, why would you want to build on those poorly constructed agreements and go forward with an even bigger one? I don't think so.
"If the administration could tell us very clearly that, in fact, for the first time we would have a trade agreement that would grow jobs, rather than see factories close down and go to Vietnam, I would give it some thought," he said.
Sanders said a list of candidates running for president in 2016 could be one that "includes me," as well as others who "have a right to bring forth their names and run for president of the United States."
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