Exchange With Reporters on Domestic and Foreign Policy Issues

April 15, 1982

The President. I just thought that I ought to come back here though. I noticed some of you writing stories about my school visit, maybe, you were a little concerned about my statement on unemployment -- [inaudible] -- --

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. What? No, I'll just sit here in the aisle, thank you.

And I just thought that if there was any confusion since March, when they also announced that there was a great increase in unemployment that -- [inaudible] -- worried about this -- think I've, somehow, misstated that the -- it is absolutely true that the method by which we compute unemployment -- [inaudible] -- we did decrease unemployment by 88,000 -- [inaudible] -- over February. We increased employment 525,000, March over February.

Now, the method of computing how this can work is that it seems the Bureau of Labor Statistics computes employment figures on a 5-year basis, making projections ahead. So, they projected an increase of more than 600,000 for April-March, and they predicted a decrease of unemployment of about 200,000. So, when the actual figures of the increase in employment wasn't as big as their projection, they called that a decline of a couple of hundred thousand. And when the decrease in unemployment wasn't big as their projection, even though it decreased, they called that an increase in unemployment.

Q. Will they, then, balance it off the projections, instead of -- [inaudible]?

The President. Yes. This is absolutely true, and from their own figures provided in the -- [inaudible] -- it's the higher they rise, the -- --

Q. You don't mind if I doze off during this, do you, Mr. President? [Laughter]

The President. No. [Laughter] Well, I just thought I saw you all perk up, and I thought, aha, they think he's done it again. [Laughter]

Q. Well, now that you're here -- [laughter] -- anything new on the Falklands you can tell us about?

The President. Really can't.

Q. Did you talk to Haig today, while we were in the air?

The President. No.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. No.

Q. [Inaudible] -- write about?

Q. He's on his way, isn't he?

The President. He's on his way. I think he's left by now.

Q. Yes -- [inaudible].

Q. Can you clear up something else that was a little confusing?

The President. Yeah.

Q. Okay. Yesterday, in the Rose Garden when we talked about the Soviets -- can you clear up whether the United States Government does or doesn't know whether they're helping the Argentinians?

The President. I was basing my remarks on what's been reported in the press.

Q. You said, though -- you said that it was established is what you said, though. How did you mean that, that it was established? Those are your words.

The President. Well, I'm only just talking about what's been reported -- --

Q. You said it was established, and -- --

The President. Well, I was just believing that you wouldn't say it, all of you -- said it if it wasn't true. [Laughter]

Q. Well, will you say if you have any information other than what you've read in the press about that?

The President. Well, again, as I've said, there are just -- it is too -- this is too edgy a thing for me to comment on -- [inaudible].

Q. Sir, were you intending to -- --

Q. We think you did real good -- [inaudible].

Q. Were you sending a signal that you may accept a surtax -- [inaudible] -- yesterday?

The President. No; I was just saying that this discussion process -- I want it to go forward and keep on going. And I think it's the only way we're going to arrive at a point at which we can then, maybe, come up with a bipartisan agreement.

Q. But you might have said -- --

The President. I wasn't picking on any specific -- [inaudible].

Q. You weren't sending a broad signal as it's been reported, then?

The President. No, no. No broad signal.

Q. Thank you for coming back. Thank you.

The President. If there's ever any future confusion about things I've said, feel free to ask me. [Laughter]

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at approximately 1:45 p.m. on board Air Force One as the President was returning to Washington, D.C., from Chicago, Ill.