Biden says US economy making ‘consistent and steady progress’ despite jobs report missing projections

Biden made a plug for his massive infrastructure and spending plans pending in Congress

By Brooke Singman

President Biden said the U.S. economy is making “consistent and steady progress,” despite missing projections in the September jobs report, maintaining that the economy is “moving forward.” 

“Today’s report has unemployment down to 4.8%, a significant improvement from when I took office, and a sign that our economy is moving forward, even in the face of the COVID pandemic,” Biden said, adding that “jobs are up” and “wages are up.” 

“That’s progress,” he said. 

The September jobs report was projected to show that hiring gained steam last month as COVID-19 cases subsided nationwide and as federal unemployment benefits ended for millions of Americans.

But the Labor Department announced Friday that U.S. employers hired far fewer workers than expected.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 194,000 workers in September as the unemployment rate fell to 4.8%. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting the addition of 500,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate to slip to 5.1%.

The job gains in August were raised up to 366,000 from 235,000.

The president, though, touted the Labor Department’s findings this week that, in the third quarter of 2021, the number of layoffs and job reductions “is the lowest in this country since 1997.” 

Biden said the jobs report reminds that “there is important work ahead of us and important investments we need to make.” 

“America is still the largest economy in the world, but we risk losing our edge as a nation if we don’t move,” Biden said, making a plug for his massive infrastructure and spending plans pending in Congress, saying the investments in his plan will give American workers “a fighting chance,” and bring the country to a higher GDP and job creation. 

“These bills are about competitiveness versus complacency,” Biden said. “Opportunity versus decay. They are about leading the world, or letting the world pass us by.” 

He added: “The American people know what’s at stake. they understand that when workers and families have a better shot, America has a better shot.”  

The September report was the first since the $300 per week in supplemental unemployment benefits expired on September 5. Economists are still assessing the impact of the Child Tax Credit, which pays families up to $3,600 per child per year. Also having an impact going forward will be the mandatory vaccine requirements being enforced by a growing number of companies. 

Notable job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (+74,000) were led by the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector (+43,000). Hiring in food services and drinking places was little changed for a second straight month after averaging a monthly gain of 197,000 from January through July. Professional and business services (+60,000), retail trade (+56,000), and transportation and warehousing (+47,000) also saw sizable gains. 

Both local government education (-144,000) and state government education (-17,000) lost jobs last month. 

The number workers reentering the labor force decreased by 198,000 last month to 2.3 million. The labor force participation rate was little changed at 61.6%, and was 1.7 percentage points below its February 2020 level. The rate has held between 61.4% and 61.7% since June 2020.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.6% in September and was up 4.6% year over year. Economists were expecting a 0.4% monthly increase and a 4.6% year over year gain.