Biden takes victory lap as jobs report cools recession talk

he kept the sunglasses. When Joe Biden stepped out onto the south balcony of the White House on a blisteringly hot August Friday in Washington, he reached for his trademark aviator shades but decided to leave them in place, perhaps a sign of his sunny mood after the release of a record-breaking report for jobs.

“More people are working in America today than before the pandemic began,” Biden said. β€œIn fact, more people are working in America than at any time 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 level in five decades.

The jobs number, which beat market expectations, showed that the country has recovered all the jobs lost during the pandemic. “It puts an end to any idea that the economy is currently in recession,” said Justin Wolfers, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan. “This is unashamedly, directly, any way you look at it, news that suggests the economy is growing steadily, that people are getting jobs. The labor market is not only healing, it is completely healing.”

The positive economic news comes as gasoline prices have slowly eased since peaking in June, and Biden is poised to sign new legislation next week to support U.S. computer chip manufacturing Another piece of legislation on track to move quickly through Congress, could lower prescription drug costs for millions of older Americans, expand help to lower health insurance premiums and create the largest investments on address climate change in US history.

After months of devastating headlines about rising inflation, the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and his appalling approval numbers, this week has brought other developments that suggest Biden’s political future may be looking brighter. Kansas voters I strongly rejectd anti-abortion amendment to change the state constitution, an early sign that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade could motivate more voters to support Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections. Finland and Sweden are about to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in a historic expansion of the alliance championed by Biden. And even Republicans expressed approval of the announcement that the CIA had successfully killed the al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahirione of the organizers of the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Even Biden’s recent battle with COVID-19 presented a contrast to how much has changed during his tenure. His ability to withstand the disease with mild symptoms underscored how the widespread availability of vaccines and therapeutics has allowed Americans to return to work. “The policies that helped put the pandemic in the rearview mirror are a big part of our macroeconomic story right now,” Wolfers says.

Republicans said the low unemployment rate underscored how American businesses are struggling to find enough workers and that Democratic policies designed to make health care more affordable would discourage more people from joining the workforce. The deflation bill, which the Senate is expected to consider this weekend and the House could send to Biden’s desk by the end of next week, “would exacerbate labor shortages with lavish health care subsidies that provide more affordable health care for out of work than those returning to work on top of crushing tax hikes for 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 economic sense.”

Biden seems happy about that debate, noting Friday that the robust labor market is evidence that he is making good on his promise to steer the economy toward building a 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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