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Reality Check: Super PAC ad claims Obama underestimating unemployment

Published On: Oct 02 2012 06:42:17 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 02 2012 09:18:20 PM CDT

A third-party group working against President Barack Obama in the election said not only has he taken the country in the wrong direction, but he's underestimating unemployment in the country.

The Super PAC Restore America's Future, a third-party group that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns, appeals directly to parents in a television ad.

The first part of the ad says: "If your daughter was 1 when President Obama was elected, she'd be in kindergarten. Is she better off?"

The announcer in the ad says, "Under Obama, America is experiencing the worst economic recovery since the great depression."

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. The group cites an Associated Press analysis of the so-called "great recession" and economic recovery.

The AP analysis found that since World War II, 10 recessions have been followed by periods of recovery and 2009 was the worst. But the analysis also found that most economists felt the slow recovery was predictable given the depth of the crisis in the housing and financial industries.

"Counting people who have dropped out or stopped looking for work, the real unemployment rate is 19 percent," the announcer says in the ad.

WISC-TV found this is misleading. First, the "real" unemployment rate the federal government regularly uses is currently 8.1 percent, but there are some categories that aren't counted in that number. They include those working part-time because of the economy and discouraged workers who say they want a job but haven't looked recently.

When the government adds those figures up, the rate is 14.7 percent. That figure may not include those who left the labor force voluntarily to retire or become a stay-at-home parent, but surveys can't tell us whether the economy played a role in those decisions.

The bottom line is that even looking at all of these categories, WISC-TV found no legitimate path to the 19 percent figure.

"Obama has added more debt than the first 41 presidents combined," the announcer says in the ad.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. According to the Department of the Treasury and the federal budget office, the total public debt at the end of the 2008 fiscal year was about $5.8 trillion. Has Obama added double that amount? Not yet, but he likely will. The public debt is projected to be $11.5 trillion at the end of 2012, and $12.3 trillion at the end of 2013, effectively doubling what he started with.

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