Conservative columnists playing dishonest numbers game to falsely claim the New Deal failed to reduce unemployment. Recently, conservative columnists George Will and Mona Charen have been playing a dishonest numbers game to falsely claim the New Deal failed to reduce unemployment. However, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in 1933 was 24.9 percent and that it fell each year thereafter (to 14.3 percent in 1937) until 1938 when it rose to 19 percent. Why the increase from 1937 to 1938? It was a reversal of the New Deal policies, which had reduced unemployment, that actually led to recession and drove the numbers back up. It's worth noting, by the way, that these numbers do not include those in federal work-relief programs (at the time, BLS counted those employed by the New Deal's emergency work programs as unemployed). So, the unemployment numbers were actually lower than reported in these years.