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Fact Check: Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force

  “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.”

THE FACT CHECKER | This is an absurd Four-Pinocchio claim, based on a real number. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, relying on a monthly survey known as the Current Population Survey (CPS), shows that, as of January 2016, 94.4 million Americans 16 years and older were “not in labor force.”

How is this number developed? Well, there is a civilian noninstitutional population of 254.1 million people, and 159.7 million are in the labor force. The difference yields the 94.4 million figure.

But the unemployment rate is only 4.8 percent because just 7.6 million people actively are looking for a job and cannot find one. They are considered part of the overall labor force. In other words, you have to be seeking a job to be counted in the labor force.

Who are the 94 million not in the labor force? The BLS has data for the year 2015. It turns out that 93 percent do not want a job at all. The picture that emerges from a study of the data shows that the 95 million consists mostly of people who are retired, students, stay-at-home parents or disabled.

Trump is doing a real disservice in citing this 94 million figure and suggesting it means these people are looking for work.

Real-time fact-checking and analysis of Trump’s address to Congress
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress as Vice President Mike Pence (L) and House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R) (R-WI) look on on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Trump's first address to Congress focused on national security, tax and regulatory reform, the economy, and healthcare. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Trump is headed to the Capitol tonight to deliver his first speech as president to a joint session of Congress. The speech is expected to outline budget goals and priorities.

The speech is scheduled to start at 9 p.m.; you can watch coverage starting at 8:45 p.m. here.

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