11 Jan 2022 This is the Economy “Back on its Feet”?
When the December employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was released, the number of jobs created was only half of what economists predicted, despite reflecting what is usually a good season due to the holidays. Yet Joe Biden took a victory lap anyway, calling it “a historic day.”
“I would argue the Biden economic plan is working,” he said at a press event. “And is getting America back to work, back on its feet.”
But only 61.9% of the population is in the workforce, a number that is low and has remained stagnant for a while.
The jobs report was particularly solemn for the black community, which took quite a hit. There was an overall rise in black unemployment. Unemployment among black women rose by more than a point to 6.2%, which is more than double the rate for white women. The rate for black men was more than twice that of white men. And joblessness among black teens was at a very high 21%.
Yet Biden declared:
This is the kind of recovery I promised and hoped for, for the American people, where the biggest benefits go to the people who work the hardest and are more often left behind. The people who have been ignored before, the people who just want a decent chance to build a decent life for their family, just given a clear shot.
In a press release that went out just as the president was doing his happy dance, members of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network called out Biden on such assertions. Directly addressing this particular assertion, Project 21 Director of Membership Services Donna Jackson said:
When they campaigned for the White House, the Biden-Harris ticket promised racial equity. In power, their policies are putting more black folk out of work. This is unsustainable. These jobless numbers don’t yet reflect the damage we will see from the Omicron COVID variant and Biden’s employer vaccine mandate. But they do prove that the Biden Administration is failing in its commitment to black Americans.
Other Project 21 members added their skepticism to Biden’s assertion that the American economy is “back on its feet.”
Project 21 member Derryck Green said:
Less than 200,000 jobs were created in the month of December, and the labor force participation rate was under 62%. This isn’t great economic news for the Biden Administration to begin 2022. There are several other economic metrics that show the country isn’t in good shape:
- Despite the average hourly wage earnings increasing 4.7% in the last year, increased consumer prices outpaced wage gains at 5.7%. The continued rise in inflation will continue to force people to pay more for goods and services rather than allowing them to save or invest that money for the future.
- Because of the continued supply chain issues and the Biden Administration’s lackluster response to it, the average cost of a used car is now $29,000.
- Black unemployment, which was at historic lows during the previous administration, is at 7.1% while black teen unemployment is at 21%.
Continued lackluster economic news combined with the poor response to Covid-19 – the Biden Administration continues to falter in the very areas the president promised he, and the country, would flourish.
And Project 21 member Michael Austin added:
In an economic address, Joe Biden said something unexpected. He said “a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity.” I wholeheartedly agree. This is why we should take the latest jobs report as a sign to reject his socialist policies.
The latest jobs report doesn’t say low job growth is a problem, it says too many people have stopped looking for work.
In the run-up to the holiday season, the U.S. added 199,000 new jobs, less than half of what Wall Street Journal economists predicted. While the unemployment rate did tick lower to 3.9%, it was partly because a lot of people dropped out of the labor force. Across the nation, 61.9% of the working-age population either have a job or are looking for one. For blacks, the participation is even lower, at 60.8%. Both statistics are among the lowest participation levels in 40 years.
Bottom line: jobs are an important part of a person’s identity and well-being, and yet Biden’s perverse incentives are weakening Americans’ level of economic engagement. Congress stopping Biden’s Build Back Better Act is a step in the right direction, but it shouldn’t stop there. Congress should end the incentives that are causing more Americans to stay home rather than work.