AP FACT CHECK: Trump vastly overstates depth of labor pool

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers about trade policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, center, and President Donald Trump listen to Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speak during a meeting with lawmakers about trade policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers about trade policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — As he envisions a manufacturing revival, President Donald Trump is telling lawmakers the U.S. has a vast, idle labor pool itching to go to work. That's a mirage.

His remarks Tuesday at a meeting with members of Congress about trade:

TRUMP: "I do have to say that we do have a pool of 100 million people, of which some of them — many of them — want to work; they want to have a job. A lot of them do better not working, frankly, under the laws. And people don't like to talk about it. But you're competing against government. And they have great potential. They sort of want to work, but they're making less if they work than if they stay home and do other things. So we have to address that situation. That's a big problem. But we have a pool of 100 million people, a lot of whom want to work. "

THE FACTS: "Some of them" is true. But that's not true for most.

Out of Trump's pool of 100 million (actually 95.7 million, according to the government), only about 5.2 million say they want to be working. The vast majority is made up of students aged 16 and over, the elderly and people who want to stay home to raise their children. That information comes from the same government survey used to calculate the unemployment rate.

The economy is already considered to be close to full employment, meaning it's harder to find workers to fill new jobs — harder still if Trump succeeds in curbing immigration.

Few economists blame social programs keeping large numbers of people at home and out of work, as Trump appeared to do. Instead, recent economic research suggests opioid addiction is a key reason many Americans can't get or keep jobs. And past episodes of widespread imprisonment are also a factor: Having a criminal conviction makes it hard for people to find work once they are out of jail.

Trump reasons that trade penalties he's considering against other countries would spur domestic manufacturing if imports become too expensive. But Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and other lawmakers told him to tread carefully on trade sanctions because the tight U.S. labor market has existing manufacturers struggling to fill jobs.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

___

Associated Press writer Cal Woodward contributed to this report.

Must Read

If Trump can't get along with GOP, how will he govern?

Aug 9, 2016

Beyond the political fallout from Donald Trump's rocky relationship with party elders lies a fundamental reality: Should he win the presidency, the brash billionaire will have to work closely with the same GOP leaders he vilified on the campaign trail

RNC hires strategists to help woo African-American voters

Aug 9, 2016

The Republican National Committee has hired three new strategists to help increase its outreach to black voters, including Ashley D. Bell as its new senior strategist and national director of African-American engagement

Florida officials go into damage-control mode over Zika

Aug 6, 2016

Worried about Florida's all-important tourism industry, state officials are going into damage-control mode over Zika

People also read these

A look at China's foreign policy challenges

Aug 10, 2016

China's simmering feud with South Korea over deployment of an American missile defense system is the latest in a string of foreign policy challenges piling up on President Xi Jinping's desk as he prepares to host next month's annual summit of G20 nations

House Speaker Paul Ryan wins GOP nomination to run again

Aug 10, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan has defeated a longshot Republican primary challenger who had been praised by Donald Trump

Criticism of lavish funeral for Anne of Romania

Aug 10, 2016

The presidents of Romania and Moldova pay their last respects to Anne of Romania at a 19th-century royal castle amid some criticism about the grand royal funeral

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH