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Decades-low unemployment rate is welcome news for Biden ahead of State of the Union

  • February 03, 2023

U.S. President Joe Biden cheered jobs numbers released Friday morning showing the lowest unemployment rate in almost 54 years, pointing to the report as another example of that his policies are working.

“The last time the unemployment rate was that low was May 1969,” Biden said, speaking from the White House. “More people are coming into the market looking for jobs and getting jobs, a positive sign for the health of the economy going forward.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report released Friday found the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, an almost 54-year low, even better than the 3.6% economists expected. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 517,000 in January, far exceeding the 187,000 market estimate and December’s 260,000 gain.

“We’ve created 12 million — 12 million jobs — since I took office,” Biden said. “That’s the strongest two years of job growth in history by a long shot.”

The largest gains were in the leisure and hospitality sector which added 128,000 jobs. Professional and business services, government and health care all saw significant gains as well. Friday’s jobs report showed the strongest payroll gains since July, a positive sign for the economy entering the new year.

“Even as the job market reaches historic highs, inflation continues to come down. Inflation has now fallen for six straight months,” Biden said. “As inflation is coming down, take home pay for workers is going up. Real wages are up and wages for lower-income and middle-income workers have gone up even more.”

Average hourly earnings increased 0.3%, in line with the estimate, and 4.4% from a year ago, 0.1 percentage point higher than expectations.

The report is welcome news for the White House days out from Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday where he looks to take a victory lap for his handling of the economy and urge members of Congress to stay the course. Now in a divided government with the House in Republican control and the parties set to have a show down over lifting the debt ceiling, Biden needs to prove that message.

“Put simply, I would argue the Biden economic plan is working. For the past two years we’ve heard a chorus of critics write off my economic plan,” Biden said. “Todays data makes crystal clear what I’ve always known in my gut: these critics and cynics are wrong.”

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