Biden touts strong December wage increases, brushes off weak job growth

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  • After December’s job numbers were released, President Joe Biden touted the strong salary gains he achieved during his first year in office.
  • The unemployment rate fell after the pandemic to a new 3.9% in December, but the economy added only 199,000 new jobs, less than half of what economists expected.
  • Biden shrugs off critics who say his administration is ignoring the link between high wages and current runaway inflation, calling the criticism “malarky.”

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Friday that the strong salary benefits he received during his first year in office represent the economy he promised Americans, as he addressed the release of his December jobs report.

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Average hourly earnings for the month grew 0.6% and rose 4.7% year over year. Some industries have seen particularly strong wage growth in the past year: leisure, hospitality and restaurant wages have increased by 14.1% over the past 12 months, outpacing all other industries.

“This is the economy I promised and I expected,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “Where the greatest gains go to those who work the hardest and who are often left behind. Those who have been overlooked before. People who want a decent chance at making a decent living for their families “

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The unemployment rate fell to a new post-pandemic low of 3.9% in December, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics Data, But the economy added only 199,000 new jobs to non-farm payrolls, less than half of what economists had predicted.

Biden framed the nationwide labor shortage as a reflection of greater worker choice and mobility, and not, as his critics allege, a year of overly liberal government pandemic benefits that underscored the need for people to work for a living. is terminated.

Americans are not leaving jobs in record numbers to stay at home, Biden said. “They are moving towards better jobs, with better pay, with better benefits.

“It’s not about workers walking away and refusing to work. It’s about workers who are able to take a step for themselves and their families,” he said.

Biden on Friday paid relatively little attention to inflation that is a part and parcel of strong wage growth. In short, the cost of labor is rising along with the cost of everything else.

He dismissed critics who say his administration is ignoring the link between those high wages and current runaway inflation rates, calling the criticism leveled at him by Republicans and some economists “malarkey”. has gone.

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but the choice show up consistently That inflation is Americans’ biggest economic concern, and public anger about high prices have helped bring Biden’s approval rating to a record low in recent months.

“I know that even though jobs and family incomes have improved, families are still missing out on costs and costs,” he said. “So we’re taking that too.”

Economists say there may be little Biden in the short term to reverse inflation trends driven by pandemic-fueled economic changes and disruptions around the world.

Friday’s numbers come at a crossroads for the US economy, as more than half a million new Covid cases per day, many related to the Omicron version, threaten to halt an economic recovery that looks to accelerate in 2022.

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox

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