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Politics / Issues

PolitiFact Florida Checks Sanders Youth Jobless Claim; Trump's Israel Credibility

Bernie Sanders at the Miami debate

Are nearly half of all African-American high school graduates unable to land a job? And just how neutral is Donald Trump in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians?  WUSF's Steve Newborn takes a closer look at these issues with Josh Gillin of PolitiFact Florida.


During the recent Democratic debate in Miami, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders painted a pretty bleak picture about the plight of Black and Hispanic teenagers, saying they're having a harder time getting a job than the rest of the country:

"If you look at Latino kids between 17 and 20 who graduated high school, 36 percent of them are unemployed or underemployed,'' Sanders said. "African-American kids are unemployed or underemployed to the tune of 51 percent."

PolitiFact checked a very similar statement by Sanders in July, during a campaign event in Maine - and rated Mostly True. Now, eight months later, is it still true? Here's their updated ruling:


We’ll start by noting that the most commonly used unemployment-rate statistic is not as high for each group as Sanders indicated. The most readily available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics covers the age range from 16 to 19, which isn’t identical but gives a quick approximation. For whites in that age range, the official unemployment rate in February 2016 was 13.9 percent, for Hispanics it was 15.6 percent and for African-Americans it was 23.3 percent. In other words, the official unemployment rate shows that African-American youth unemployment is significantly higher than white youth unemployment and, to a lesser extent, higher than Hispanic youth unemployment. Still, the levels for each group are lower than what Sanders said. So what’s going on? Sanders’ camp pointed us to research published in June 2015 by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-of-center think tank. The numbers in the report match what Sanders said at the debate. This data is different from the more familiar measurements for a few reasons. One, the institute didn’t just look at employment status for people between the ages of 17 and 20; it limited its reach to high school graduates who were not enrolled in further schooling. The last month analyzed in the EPI study was March 2015. We don’t know exactly how much improvement there’s been for young, minority, high school graduates since then, because that specific slice of the data isn’t readily available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. But we can do a quick estimate based on the change in unemployment rates for 16-to-19-year-old Hispanics and African-Americans between March 2015 and February 2016. During that period -- since the EPI report came out -- the unemployment rate for young Hispanics fell from 20.9 percent to 15.6 percent, and for young African-Americans, it fell from 25.1 percent to 23.3 percent. In other words, it’s quite possible that the unemployment rates for young, minority, high-school grads is lower now than what Sanders stated. Our ruling As was the case when we first reviewed this claim last July, Sanders’ general point is correct -- that in an apples-to-apples comparison, African-American and Hispanic youth have significantly worse prospects in the job market than whites do. But while Sanders had support for this data when he first began using these numbers eight months ago, there’s reason to believe that the improving job market has lowered these rates, at least somewhat. The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, so we rate it Mostly True.


Going back to Miami, but on the Republican side of the presidential debate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz attacked businessman and fellow candidate Donald Trump for not being sufficiently pro-Israel.

"On Israel, Donald has said he wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians," said Cruz. "As president, I will not be neutral."

Now, Trump went on to say he was a great friend of Israel and that he would be somewhat neutral when trying to come up with a solution to the endless conflict with the Palestinians. He said there is "nobody on this stage that is more pro-Israel than I am."

Did Trump really refuse to pick a side in that conflict? Here's PolitiFact Florida's ruling:


During the debate at the University of Miami, Trump reeled off his pro-Israel credentials, including that he was a grand marshal for the Israeli Day Parade in New York. He stood by his words about his goal to remain neutral as a negotiation strategy. Trump said although he is "pro-Israel", in order to negotiate a peace settlement, "I would like to at least have the other side think I am at least somewhat neutral to them." He said if elected, as a deal maker he wouldn’t want to give away his position ahead of time. "I’d rather save it for that moment when you walk into the room," he said. Trump also told the coalition that he endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013. "I am a big fan of Israel," Trump said in the video endorsement. "And frankly a strong prime minister is a strong Israel." During the 2016 campaign, Trump had planned on meeting with Netanyahu in Israel but canceled after Netanyahu faced backlash after Trump’s comments about Muslims. When asked at the Republican Jewish Coalition if he had relationships with any Arab leaders, Trump said, "I haven’t been working too much with the Arab leaders." Spokespersons for Trump did not respond on debate night. Our ruling Trump did make that statement during an MSNBC town hall in February. He has repeatedly said that in order to be an effective negotiator he believes he must approach the two sides with neutrality. But Cruz is omitting Trump’s comments and actions that have shown support for Israel, including that he endorsed Netanyahu. We rate this statement Half True.