We have noted how Democratic presidential candidates, nearly all of them, are trying to convince Americans that our economy is in woeful condition. Absent an economic downturn, the effort seems destined to fail. As debate moderator Savannah Guthrie informed the field during the first night of debating, most Americans, and even most Democrats, believe the economy is doing well.
The numbers support this belief. To take one example, the unemployment rate is below 4 percent.
During the second night of debating, Kamala Harris tried to argue her way around this fact. The California Senator declared that she’s “been traveling around the country . . . meeting people who are working two and three jobs.” From these meetings, she purported to conclude that the economic picture is bleak because Americans are working two and three jobs just “to put food on the table.”
Harris deftly built on this theme later in the debate when, during a testy exchange between some of the other candidates, she said that Americans aren’t interested in food fights, but rather in putting food on the table.
Harris may not be lying, exactly, with her multiple jobs story. There’s no doubt that some Americans are working two, or in a few cases, three jobs, and Harris very likely has met such people. It may even be the case that a few of these folks, if their families are large enough, need to work multiple jobs just to put food food on the table, as opposed to paying for less elemental items or just for satisfaction.
But Kayla Barsch of NRO explodes the notion that working multiple jobs to put food on the table is a widespread phenomenon in America:
The reality is, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 5 percent of Americans worked more than one job in 2018. Further, only 3.2 percent. . .work a full-time job alongside of a part-time job (instead of two part-time jobs). And, recorded within that 3.2 percent are freelance artists, moonlight writers, and weekend Uber drivers [ED: and bloggers?] — in short, it is hard to gauge whether the majority were working multiple jobs simply to “put food on the table” as Harris suggested, or if they were simply unsatisfied with their regular job ( as the Census Bureau suggests).
Barsch also points out that the number of Americans working multiple jobs has stayed fairly steady since 1970. Moreover, it has been on a noticeable decline since the 1990s.
Harris is a skillful fabulist. However, I doubt that she’s skillful enough to convince Americans that many of them have to work multiple jobs to put food on the table or, more generally, that our economy is in bad shape.