Truthsquad on Jobs
Today there are more men and women out of work in America than there are people working in Canada.
Mitt Romney, former governor (R-MA) on unemployment

Editor Findings

  • Truthsquadeditoricon_thumb_thumb
    Mostly False
    Jon Mitchell
    On Feb. 11th, 2011, former Massachussetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference. His speech focused on the economy, and he criticized the Obama administration's policies for failing to create enough jobs.

    To illustrate his concerns about the unemployment situation in the U.S., Romney made this claim: "Today there are more men and women out of work in America than there are people working in Canada." We find this statement to be mostly false.

    According to the Canadian government's official employment summary, there were 17.2 million Canadians employed as of January, 2011. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 13.9 million Americans are currently unemployed. This would seem to contradict Romney's statement, but unemployment rates are not so simple.

    When questioned Romney's campaign about this claim, his spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, pointed to the large number of underemployed Americans, which includes those who work part time but are looking for full-time work. But Romney referred to people who are "out of work," which would exclude people who have some part-time work.

    As NewsTrust reviewer Roland Hirsch points out, the BLS unemployment statistic does not include 2.8 million people who are marginally attached to the work force:
    These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
    But even if we included all of these people for the sake of argument, the U.S. unemployment figure would climb to 16.7 million, still 300,000 people short.

    Moreover, elsewhere in the speech, Romney stated that there are 15 million Americans currently unemployed, which is significantly higher than the BLS statistic but still well short of Canada's employment figure of 17.2 million.

    One problem with Romney's statement, as is often the case in political speeches, is that his wording was not precise. Using the informal phrase "out of work" allowed Romney some flexibility in the interpretation of his claim. Still, we couldn't find statistical evidence to support his comparison, even with a generous interpretation of the official numbers.

    Furthermore, many Truthsquad participants felt that this comparison between the U.S. and Canada was not clearly meaningful or constructive, even if the statistic was plausible. NewsTrust host Glenn LaBauve put it eloquently:
    The population of Canada is 1/10th (34,000,000) of the US population (308,000,000) so if our unemployment rate is near 10% this might be true. But what does it mean? How is it relevant? Why bring it up? How does this in any way make our problem better?
    We agree with Glenn that Romney's claim is a rhetorical flourish, not an informative statement. However, his language was just imprecise enough to require us to rule it "Mostly False."

    -- Jon Mitchell, on behalf of Truthsquad editors

Community Findings

False (1.8)
  • Jon Mitchell
    Jon Mitchell
    It's mostly false. The statement is too poorly worded to be clear on exactly who is included and who is not, so "out of work" has some wiggle room to include people who are not counted as "unemployed." However, I think Romney's rhetorical implication is clearly that there are more "unemployed" in U.S. than "employed" in Canada, which would be totally false, if he had been specific enough.
  • Derek Hawkins
    Derek Hawkins
    No way. The Canadian government reports a workforce of a little more than 17 million. While the BLS figure of 13.9 million unemployed Americans is certainly troubling, it's not close enough for even rhetorical comparison. Rather than trying to stoke some sort of antagonism with Canada, why not compare the U.S. unemployed population to, for example, the adult population of a U.S. state?
  • Fabrice Florin
    Fabrice Florin
    Based on the factual evidence we have found so far, it appears that Matt Romney exaggerated the facts for political reasons. In my book, "out of work" is the same as "unemployed," and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 13.9 million Americans fall in that category -- quite a bit less than the 17 million Canadians in that country's workforce. I agree with others in this truthsquad who find this claim to be mostly rhetorical; but facts should be corrected when they are wrong, which seems to be the case here.
  • Gin Ferrara
    Gin Ferrara
  • Subramanya Sastry
    Subramanya Sastry
    Not Sure
    Reading the factcheck note, it appears that a distinction is being made about unemployed and underemployed which changes the picture a bit. Would have to look at the numbers more carefully. ------ My earlier comment ------ Without reading anything yet, it seems like the numbers would hold out. Canada's population is about 10% that of the US, and if unemployment in the US is 10%, the numbers that Romney quotes would be close. But, so what? It is being quoted for shock value.
  • Barry Grossheim
    Barry Grossheim
    Not Sure
  • Fred Gatlin
    Fred Gatlin
    The number of people out of work varies with how they are counted, but more than those working in Canada does not make sense.
  • Bob Herrschaft
    Bob Herrschaft
    Not Sure
  • Ellie Kesselman
    Ellie Kesselman
    Using data for the month of Jan 2011, there are about 17.5 million Canadians employed, based on the Statistics Canada Summary Tables. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information can be interpreted in different ways. Even including those who have dropped out of the workforce due to chronic lack of employment opportunities, it requires very extreme categorization of unemployment e.g. temporary workers who lost their jobs, to approach or exceed the 17.5 million unemployed tally. However, it is a meaningless comparison for a politician (or anyone!) to make, because of the much smaller Canadian population (by nearly a factor of 10).
  • Chris Finnie
    Chris Finnie
    According to the Canadian government website (Statistics Canada that Jon linked to), January 2011 figures in thousands are: Population 27,840.8 Labour force 18,664.2 Employment 17,214.5 Unemployment 1,449.6 Honestly, math is not my strong suit. But, if I read this right, it says about 17 million Canadians are working. That is higher than official U.S. unemployment. Though it's not far off of estimates that include "discouraged" workers and the underemployed, as Lynn points out.
  • Paul Keene
    Paul Keene
  • Sherwin Steffin
    Sherwin Steffin
    Not Sure
  • Lynn Caporale
  • Carlos R. Candelaria
    Carlos R. Candelaria
  • Joel Kulenkamp
    Joel Kulenkamp
  • J. B. Van Wely
    J. B. Van Wely
  • Terry Edeli
    Terry Edeli
  • Sharon Handy
    Sharon Handy
  • Janice Hutchinson
    Janice Hutchinson
  • Sondra Loucks Wilson
    Sondra Loucks Wilson
  • Peter Glover
    Peter Glover
  • Lynn R. Willis
    Lynn R. Willis
  • Melva Hackney
    Melva Hackney
  • Patrick McGuire
    Patrick McGuire
    We are living in an age where facts are misrepresented and/or downright lies. The statement was made for political points. Canada's entire population isn't even 1% of America's population. Even if it is true the statement is meaningless.
  • David Dresser
    David Dresser
  • Roland F. Hirsch
    Roland F. Hirsch
    The population of Canada is about 33 million, of whom 17 million are working. The latest U.S.survey shows 13.9 million unemployed plus 2.8 million "marginally attached to the work force" (not even trying to get work though they want it). Mr Romney said "out of work": the actual figure of 16.7 million rounds to 17 million, do he is absolutely correct.
  • Lucy Sells
    Lucy Sells
  • Anthony Carelly
    Anthony Carelly
    Not Sure
  • Cheri Levenson
  • Juan Carlos
    Juan Carlos
  • Merry Bern
    Merry Bern
    Scanning the responses, I don't see any reference to the large "disabled" population we have in the US, who also are "out of work." If one counts the US citizens who are under 65 who have become unable to work due to syndromes related to obesity (and the concomitant diabetes and kidney failure,) drug and alcohol dependency, I have no doubt that we have Canada's workforce beaten by a wide margin.
  • Patricia W. Neal
    Patricia W. Neal
  • Mary Murray
    Mary Murray
    Not Sure
  • Firaydun
  • Jim Marshall
    Jim Marshall
    Mitt is full of shit
  • James Semaski
    James Semaski
  • Sharon Lee Kufeldt
    Sharon Lee Kufeldt
  • Jim Britt
    Jim Britt
  • Ian Francis
    Ian Francis
  • Bruce Whitham
    Bruce Whitham
  • Joe Peluso
    Joe Peluso
  • Amira Young
    Amira Young
    The Canadian government reports a workforce of a little more than 17 million people. As of there are close to 13 million Americans unemployed. Also to me this was very poorly written.
  • Gerard Van Der Leun
    Gerard Van Der Leun
  • Brooke C. Wheeler
    Brooke C. Wheeler
  • Donald Barnes
    Donald Barnes
    Just playing the odds one must say false. There have been so many lies coming from the GOP since the falacy of supply side economics to the present fearmongering about Social Security that this too is false. Additionally, silence against lies makes one complicit in to the lies.
  • Chasnej
  • Liz Lawyer
    Liz Lawyer
  • McKelly
  • Christine Walden
    Christine Walden
  • Kim Vaugh Sowards
    Kim Vaugh Sowards
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  • Jerome Freehill
    Jerome Freehill
  • gayle ansell
    gayle ansell
  • Honah Lee
    Honah Lee
  • Seth Berkman
    Seth Berkman
    Not Sure
  • Alan MacNab
    Alan MacNab
  • Ed Fraser
    Ed Fraser
    It's plausible, Canada is much smaller then the US. The Canadian employment data link said 17 million Canadians are employed. America has 310 million people, lets say 60% work or want to work (adjustment for children, retirees, students, etc.) Further more, were at 9 or 10 percent unemployment. Run the numbers and you'll have to say true.
  • Shelby McDill
    Shelby McDill
  • Calvin Mccargo Jr
    Calvin Mccargo Jr
  • tamara flannery
    tamara flannery
  • marco caceres
    marco caceres
  • L Birmingham
    L Birmingham
  • seema
  • Margaret McNamara
    Margaret McNamara

COMMENTS (11) Help