(CNN) – A week after proposing his economic recovery plan, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul said Sunday that the true unemployment rate in the United States is higher than the 9.1% estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"I think the downturn in the economy occurred in the year 2000," Paul told CNN, adding that there have been no new jobs since then "and yet we've had a 30 million increase in population."
"Just go out and talk to the people - unemployment rate in the true numbers (is) over 20%, so there's been a depression," Paul said after an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number of unemployed Americans at 14 million.
Paul's campaign has proposed cutting $1 trillion from the budget in his first year in office if elected. His economic plan calls for lowering the corporate tax rate to 15%, an extension of all Bush-era tax cuts and an end to taxing personal savings.
"Let the people spend the money instead of the government," Paul said.
Paul also expressed his ideas about less government spending and his opposition to rival Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan that proposes replacing the current tax system with a 9% income tax rate, a 9% corporate tax rate and a new 9% national sales tax.
When asked about Cain's plan, Paul said, "I think it would be devastating because it would be a brand new tax. It's a compromise between those who want a flat tax and a national sales tax."
Paul said he thinks getting rid of taxation is the answer to improving the economy.
"The money is out there, it's just that people are frightened and intimidated by all the regulations and they don't know what the future will bring," Paul said.