President Joe Biden took a victory lap on Friday after the U.S. economy reported 517,000 new jobs in January, topping most economists’ expectations.
With outgoing National Economic Council (NEC) director Brian Deese and Council of Economic Advisors (CEC) head Cecilia Rouse behind him, President Biden claimed that he had created more jobs in two years than any other president in the same span.
“As my dad used to say, jobs are about a lot more than a paycheck,” he told reporters before leaving for Pennsylvania. “It’s about dignity, and 12 million more Americans get up every morning knowing they can provide for their families with a dignity and sense of self-worth that had been missing.”
The unemployment rate also fell to 3.4 percent, the lowest jobless figure since May 1969. Black and Hispanic unemployment are also close to near-record lows: the black jobless rate was 5.4 percent, and the Hispanic unemployment rate was 4.3 percent.
“This matters,” he stated. “More working-age folks came into the labor market looking for jobs last month. That has removed all the talk about no one’s looking for work and we need more people coming into the market. Well, more people are coming into the market, looking for jobs, and getting jobs, a positive sign for the health of the economy going forward.”
Biden noted that inflation continues to come down, with the price for a gallon of gasoline sliding about $1.50 since its peak of $5.01 in June 2022. This has allowed take-home pay for workers to go up and real wages for low- and middle-income workers to rise “even more.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), real average hourly earnings (inflation-adjusted) fell 1.1 percent in December. When this is coupled with a 0.9 percent drop in the average workweek, real average weekly earnings tumbled 2 percent.
This is all in addition to the fourth-quarter GDP growth rate of 2.9 percent, the president noted.
However, when asked if he takes responsibility for inflation surging under his administration, Biden refused to take the blame.
“Because it was already there when I got here,” he added. “I got here and jobs were hemorrhaging. Inflation was rising. We weren’t manufacturing a damn thing here. We were in real economic difficulty.”
When Biden arrived at the White House in January 2021, the annual inflation rate was below 2 percent, peaking at 9.1 percent in June 2022.
Moving forward, the president promised that more work would be done over the next two years, from lowering health care costs to rebuilding American infrastructure and supply chains, he said.
“We’re going to keep seeing shovels hitting the ground all around the country to rebuild the infrastructure and supply chains, manufacturing more here at home and communities across the country that were too easily written off for dead,” the president said. “We’re going to not only see jobs coming back but a sense of self-worth and pride coming back.”
Biden will be visiting Pennsylvania on Friday to announce a $500 million plan to remove lead pipes in Philadelphia. He is also expected to promote various administration wins in his speech to Democrats.