The September jobs number was a big miss, but Biden sees ‘great progress’ in rising wages, lower unemployment rate

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  • President Joe Biden signaled “great progress” in his September jobs report, even as the total number missed expectations by a wide margin.
  • The president pointed to a fall in the unemployment rate and an increase in wages.
  • The jobs report comes as Biden faces the most challenging period of his presidency so far, as he advances his economic agenda in Congress and grapples with a slump in approval ratings.

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said September’s jobs report showed “great progress” in getting the US economy back on track after a year and a half of the Covid-19 pandemic disruption, even as the total number of jobs exceeded expectations. was less.

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“Today, for the first time since March of 2020, the US unemployment rate is below 5%,” Biden said in remarks at the White House on Friday, after the Labor Department released monthly jobs numbers earlier in the day.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.8% in September, better than the expected 5.1%.

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The president largely dismissed what, for markets, was arguably the biggest takeaway from the September report: the fact that non-farm payrolls only increased by 194,000, compared to the Dow Jones estimate of 500,000. .

“Monthly totals bounce around,” Biden said, “but if you take a look at the trend, it’s solid.”

The president also drew attention to the sharp increase in wages. “Working Americans are also getting their paychecks. In September, we saw the biggest increase in the average wage paid to working Americans on record,” Biden said.

Monthly wage gains of 0.6% drove the year-over-year increase to 4.6%, as companies use wage increases to tackle persistent labor shortages.

Biden also spoke about the recent drop in long-term unemployment. It was driven by the post-pandemic return of workers in particularly hard-hit industries such as hospitality and leisure.

“Over the past three months, we have seen a drop of 1.3 million long-term unemployment. This is the biggest three-month decline in long-term unemployment since records began in 1948.” “There is much more to do, but great progress.”

The jobs report comes as Biden is facing the most challenging phase of his presidency so far. He is attempting to push an ambitious economic agenda through Congress, while his approval ratings on issues ranging from foreign policy to the economy to immigration have fallen sharply.

a Quinnipiac University Polls Released This Week found that only 39% of respondents approved of Biden’s handling of the economy, while 55% disapproved.

This has been effectively flipped since May, When a Gallup poll found that 57% of Americans Biden had confidence in handling the economy.

hard road ahead

September’s jobs report offered good news for Biden and the White House on two economic metrics that are particularly important to them: high wages and low unemployment.

While employers and business groups say a workforce-wide labor shortage that is forcing them to offer higher wages threatens the country’s medium-term economic outlook, Biden doesn’t see it that way.

Instead, he sees higher pay as a fulfillment of promises made to voters in 2020.

“When it comes to the economy we are building, rising wages are not a bug, they are a feature,” he said in a speech on the economy in May this year.

Yet despite Biden’s optimism about the number of jobs, the White House faces several major economic hurdles between now and the end of the year.

One is inflation, which continues to rise and which, studies show, is eating away at the wage benefits of most workers.

Supply chain disruptions are another problem, as they help drive inflation and threaten the country’s long-term economic recovery.

Coming out on the heels of this week’s high-stakes talks on the debt limit, which ended with a short-term escalation that was passed in the Senate on Thursday night, Congress is again warned of the possibility of default on or around December 3. Will have to face

Democrats hope that by then, they will have passed their two-track domestic agenda bill, one to shore up the nation’s infrastructure and another to expand the social safety net and improve it to serve working families. For.

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox /em>

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