Biden Takes Victory Lap as Jobs Report Cools Recession Talk

HThe sunglasses remained on. Joe Biden was walking on the White House’s south balcony in Washington. It was hot and humid. He reached for his trademark aviator sunglasses, but decided not to remove them. Perhaps this was because he felt happy after reading the record-setting jobs report.

“Today there are more people working in America than before the pandemic began,” Biden said. “In fact, there are more people working in America than at any point in American history.” The U.S. economy added 528,000 new jobs in July, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, bringing the unemployment rate to 3.5%, the lowest in five decades.

Market expectations were blown away by the employment numbers which showed the nation has fully recovered the lost jobs from the pandemic. “It puts to an end any notion that the economy is currently in a recession,” says Justin Wolfers, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. “It’s unabashedly, directly, in every way you look at it, news suggesting the economy is growing robustly, that people are getting jobs. The labor market not only is healing, but has fully healed.”

These positive economic developments come at a time where gas prices have been slowly declining since June. Biden plans to sign new legislation next Wednesday to boost U.S. computer chip manufacturing.

After months of devastating headlines about soaring inflation, the fallout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and his dreadful approval numbers, this week brought other developments suggesting Biden’s political future may be looking brighter. Kansas voters resoundingly rejected an anti-abortion amendment to change the state constitution, an early sign that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade may motivate more voters to support Democrats in the midterm elections this fall. Biden has encouraged the historic expansion of the alliance by Finland and Sweden, which is on the verge of joining the North Atlantic Treating Organization. And even Republicans expressed approval of the announcement that the CIA had successfully killed Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Even Biden’s recent bout with COVID-19 has provided a contrast to how much things have changed under his tenure. Biden’s ability to manage the mild symptoms of the disease highlighted the fact that Americans have been able to return to work thanks to the wide distribution and accessibility to vaccines. “The policies that have helped put the pandemic in the rearview mirror are a big part of our macroeconomic story right now,” Wolfers says.

Republicans stated that low unemployment figures showed American business’s difficulty in finding workers. Democrats’ policies meant to increase the affordability of healthcare would also discourage people from entering the workforce. The Inflation Reduction Act, which the Senate is expected to take up this weekend, and the House may send to Biden’s desk by the end of next week, “will worsen the workforce shortage with lavish health care subsidies that provide more affordable health care to the jobless than to those returning to work, on top of crushing tax hikes on ‘Made-in-America’ manufacturers,” Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement. “None of this makes any economic sense.”

Biden seems happy to engage in that discussion, noting that Friday’s strong jobs market is evidence that he continues to fulfill his pledge to build up the middle-class. “Workers are being empowered,” Biden said, adding later, “Where I come from, that’s a good thing and it’s long overdue.”

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