The good jobs report was welcome news for President Biden, who has insisted in recent weeks that the U.S. is not in a recession despite two consecutive quarters of contraction.
But the report also defied even the president’s own upbeat expectations about the state of the labor market — and appeared to contradict the administration’s theory about the direction of the economy.
Biden celebrated the announcement Friday morning. “Today, the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in more than 50 years: 3.5 percent,” he said in a statement. “More people are working than at any time in American history.
He added: “There is still work to be done, but today’s jobs report shows that we are making great progress on working families.”
The president has said for months that he expects job creation to slow soon and wages and prices to rise as the economy moves into a more stable state of slower growth and lower inflation.
“If the average monthly number of jobs next year changes from the current 500,000 to 150,000,” Mr. Biden wrote. opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. in May, “it will be a sign that we are successfully moving into the next phase of the recovery, as this kind of job growth is consistent with low unemployment and a healthy economy.”
White House officials were bracing reporters this week for the possibility that job growth was cooling, as Biden had expected. The expected-beating jobs numbers seemed to surprise them again.
But Biden will almost certainly cite the numbers as proof that the economy is nowhere near a recession. He and his aides have said repeatedly in recent weeks that the current rate of job creation is not matching the job numbers of previous recessions, and evidence that declining gross domestic product does not mean the country is in recession.