Biden ignores disappointing December employment figure, instead focusing on falling unemployment
President Biden glossed over weak employment growth in December, which marked the worst hiring month in a year, on Friday, focusing instead on a surprise drop in the country’s unemployment rate.
The Labor Department reported Friday morning that private companies and other employers created just 199,000 new jobs in December, well below the 400,000 gains predicted by economists at Refinitiv – a troubling sign that hiring has slowed. even before the highly contagious variant of omicron began to spread rapidly across the country.
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But other aspects of the report painted a brighter perspective. The unemployment rate unexpectedly plunged to 3.9% from 4.2%, indicating that more Americans found jobs last month than the report suggested, and that average hourly earnings rose by 0 , 6% for the month. But the participation rate was unchanged for the month at 61.9%.
Biden never mentioned the number of flagship jobs during his remarks and chose to tout the better-than-expected drop in the unemployment rate.
“This is a historic day for our economic recovery,” Biden said in a brief White House speech. “Today’s national unemployment rate fell below 4% to 3.9%, the biggest one-year drop in unemployment in US history… last year.”
The discrepancy in the unemployment rate and the lackluster employment figure in December reflects two different surveys carried out by the Ministry of Labor to draft the final employment report.
The unemployment rate is calculated from a household survey, which found that more people reported finding a job in the past month. A separate survey of employers (which includes around 150,000 large businesses and government agencies) found that only 199,000 jobs were created last month.
In total, the economy created around 6.4 million jobs over the span of 2021, an average of 537,000 per month, more than any year on record. But the country remains below 3.6 million jobs from pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.
“We brought the poverty rate down from 20 million registered unemployed to less than 2 million today,” Biden said. “America is back to work.”
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The president also took a winning turn on the wage hike, even though wage hikes played at least some role in the highest inflation in four decades. He dismissed critics who say the White House overlooks the link between higher wages and rising inflation, calling the link “malarkey.”
“This is the economy I promised and hoped for, for the American people,” Biden said in a White House speech. “Where the greatest benefits go to the hardworking people who are most often left behind. People who have been ignored before. People who just want a decent chance to build a decent life for their family. “
Still, the price hike fueled a rapid decline in Biden’s approval ratings, which have fallen to all-time highs in recent months. The government announced last month that consumer goods prices were at their highest level since 1982, with the cost of everything from gasoline to groceries to cars skyrocketing.