Did Jeb Bush really ask Americans to extend their workweek?

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush said that Americans 'need to work longer hours' to improve the economy.

Brian Snyder/Reuters
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks during town hall campaign stop at the VFW Post in Hudson, New Hampshire, Thursday.

Jeb Bush received a flurry of criticism Wednesday for a remark that Americans "need to work longer hours."

Democrats have been using this statement to show that the Republican presidential and former Florida governor hopeful may be unaware or “out-of-touch” with the American workforce.

However, Mr. Bush has since rebutted that the phrase was taken out of context and a reference to underemployed and part-time workers, not those already working full-time hours.

"If we’re going to grow the economy people need to stop being part-time workers,” Bush told The Washington Post. “They need to be having access to greater opportunities to work,"

The original comment to New Hampshire's Union Leader, was part of a broader discussion of Bush's vision for economic growth in the country:

“My aspirations for the country, and I believe we can achieve it, is for 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see,” Bush said. “Which means we have to be a lot more productive. Workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we are going to get out of this rut that we’re in.” 

 The Democratic National Committee called the statement “easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we’ve heard so far this cycle," in an email to The Post. The Clinton campaign’s chairman John Podesta tweeted an attack on the statement, saying “Americans work pretty hard already."

Even other 2016 Republican candidates have responded to Bush’s statements, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign spokesman making an allusion to Mitt Romney’s campaign gaffes in 2012.

“It would seem to me that Gov. Bush would want to avoid the kind of comments that led voters to believe that Governor Romney was out of touch with the economic struggles many Americans are facing,” the statement said.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, US workers work longer hours than those in any other large, industrialized country. Gallup found that full-time workers tend to clock in an average of 47 hours according to a 2014 Poll.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.