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Soledad O'Brien Finds the Positive In 14.6 Percent Underemployment

After the last jobs report before the election, CNN's Soledad O'Brien tried to be positive even with high underemployment and unemployment rates. On Friday's Starting Point, she ridiculously cast underemployment moving down one tenth of a percent to 14.6 as "improving."

"Underemployment which was 14.7 percent, now 14.6; labor force participation, as well, that's better. Are you feeling encouraged at all?" she asked conservative guest Grover Norquist. "No. This is not even a dead cat bounce," he replied.

[Video below the break. Audio here.]

O'Brien hailed the report as "what I think some people are saying are good, decent numbers." She also discarded the Republican attack that Obama has negative net jobs numbers for his presidency.

"With this report now, the President has created more jobs than were lost. I think this report now puts him over the edge on that," she said before asking if that was enough.

"Half of the people who just graduated from college are either fully unemployed or grossly underemployed," stated Norquist. "Young people are looking at a future where there just aren't jobs and certainly aren't good-paying jobs. And this report, if the Obama people are happy with this, that's the most depressing thing I've heard. This is more of the same."

A transcript of the coverage, which aired on Starting Point on November 2 at 8:35 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Ali, let me stop you for a second. Because what I'm reading here – and tell me if I'm wrong – for August it was revised from 142 to 192,000 non-farm payroll –  

ALI VELSHI: 192, you're right. You are right. I misread that, to 192. So these are now in the vicinity of strong. Both President Obama and Mitt Romney have talked about 12 million jobs in four years. That would be three million a year, 250,000 a month. Now we're edging up to 200,000 in August. We're now getting into the vicinity of real job creation that could actually have an effect on people. And that's what's important here.

As you know, I have real problems with the unemployment number being bandied around as a political football, because it's hard to understand. It actually is a moving target. Grover gets stuck on it, but the fact is that this job creation number and the wages earned and the type of jobs are all more important, and this is actually quite positive. I don't mean that politically. I mean this is good for America.

O'BRIEN: Okay, so let's talk about what you've raised. And I want to bring in Candy Crowley for this. You know, Ali, Candy, said that manufacturing is what he wants to look at. And when I read what they say about manufacturing, manufacturing employment changed little in October. On net, manufacturing employment has shown little change since April. So that has got to be a little black cloud in what I think some people are saying are good, decent numbers.

(...)

[8:52]

O'BRIEN: All right, Erin, let me ask you a question. With this report now, the President has created more jobs than were lost. I think this report now puts him over the edge on that. I think in terms of a narrative, we've been talking about some of the political spin out of this that's going to be important. Alison said it's not adding enough. Does this -- now with especially the revisions up, is it adding enough?

CHRISTINE ROMANS: Well this year, so  now the average according to the government employment growth this year has now averaged 157,000 a month.

ERIN BURNETT: What do you need?

ROMANS: You need 125 to 150 about. So you're basically absorbing the new entrants into the workforce. But you still have all those people who got shut out. You need – you need to be creating more than this to be robustly growing and to really be growing the economy. But now we're starting to absorb new entrants into the workforce.

BURNETT: It's like we call it the hole. So you know you can be back to where you were. But the hole, it's all the people who -- you know when we were losing jobs there were still people who were coming of age, who wanted to get jobs, who were coming to this country. The immigration slowed down but it still happened. And those people are all sitting out there.

So even if you're net even with where you were, we've got more people living in this country and more people who want jobs. That's what we call the hole, that's what you have to dig out and start to get people – those people with jobs.

(...)

[8:57]

O'BRIEN: Okay. It's time for "End Point". The rules of "End Point", short and tight. Grover Norquist, this is for you. A couple of things I want to ask you about. Two stats that you spoke about when we started this conversation have actually improved a little bit. Not much, but a little bit. Underemployment which was 14.7 percent, now 14.6; labor force participation, as well, that's better. Are you feeling encouraged at all?

GROVER NORQUIST: No. This is not even a dead cat bounce. Half of the people who just graduated from college are either fully unemployed or grossly underemployed. Young people are looking at a future where there just aren't jobs and certainly aren't good-paying jobs.

And this report, if the Obama people are happy with this, that's the most depressing thing I've heard. This is more of the same. And what is he going to do to fix it? More debt, more spending, higher taxes. We did that for the last four years and it hasn't made things better. And we've got a declining standard of living and we're going to be paying for this debt forever.

-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center