Fact-checking Biden’s economic victory lap

President Joe Biden boasted about his record on the economy on Friday, but many of his claimed victories come with caveats and further context.

The economy is in flux right now, with the Federal Reserve sending interest rates soaring over the past year, inflation high but starting to ease, and fears of a Fed-induced recession percolating.



In the speech, which comes a day before the two-year mark of Biden’s presidency, he highlighted the fact that unemployment is now so low it is now matching the lowest level recorded in the last half-century.

“The unemployment rate is as low as it’s been in 50 years, we’ve created 11 million jobs — 750,000 manufacturing jobs,” Biden told a crowd at the White House.

This is true.

The economy notched 223,000 new jobs in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this month — a strong performance that shows commerce is holding up despite several headwinds. The last time unemployment was this low was right before the pandemic took hold back in 2020, and that rate was tied for the lowest since the early 1950s.

Biden and the White House have repeatedly claimed that 2021 and 2022 were the strongest two years of job growth in history. That is true, but there’s more context to know.

What’s true is that, although still subject to revision in the coming months, since the December before Biden was sworn in, some 11.2 million jobs have been created on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. (Note, though, that Biden was not president for most of January 2021, when he was sworn in.) That is indeed the most for any two calendar years on record.

Still, while that is correct, the enormous asterisk is that so many of those jobs were regained by people who had lost them during the pandemic, so it wasn’t as much job growth as it was job recovery. Job growth since the president’s Inauguration Day largely reflects businesses reopening and workers returning to the labor force, a process already underway when Biden took office.

Additionally, the economy has still not yet returned to the pre-pandemic trend. The most recent employment report finds the country’s total employment level was 153.7 million last month. The Congressional Budget Office projected in January 2020 that there would be 155 million non-farm payrolls by the end of 2022 — a difference of 1.3 million jobs.

Biden is also correct in that he has a better job growth record than not only former President Donald Trump, but also the last three presidents.

During President George W. Bush’s first two years, 2.3 million jobs were lost. In the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, 4.1 million jobs were lost. A total of 4.6 million jobs were added through the end of 2018, President Donald Trump’s first two years in office.

Jobs Record by first two years.png

(Washington Examiner)


Biden has touted how inflation has been falling. It’s true, inflation has been in decline for several months in response to the Fed hiking interest rates.

Inflation as gauged by the consumer price index is now running at 6.5%, down from a peak of 9.1% in June.

While the declines are welcome, inflation is still running roughly more than three times hotter than it should, based on the Fed’s 2% target, still imperiling the economy and making the lives of consumers more painful.

The Fed’s rate-hiking is geared toward lowering inflation. Many post-pandemic supply-chain snarls that helped drive up inflation have eased, lowering price pressures. The price of oil, which shot up when Russia invaded Ukraine, has also declined, lowering inflation.

Biden has also touted the Inflation Reduction Act, the Democratic healthcare and clean energy bill, as helping ease inflation. The CBO released a report during the drafting of the bill estimating that the legislation would have a negligible effect on inflation during 2022 and 2023.


Biden and his administration have cheered declining gas prices. As of last month, a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline averaged $3.32, according to the Energy Information Administration. That is a 34% decrease from the highs of last summer and a slight decline from this time last year.

Still, gas prices are much higher than they were before Biden took office, a fact that Biden and the White House tend to omit when discussing falling energy prices. A gallon of gas was $2.42 the month Biden was sworn into office — 37% lower than it is now.


Biden and other members of the administration have vaunted rising wages as proof of a thriving economy. And it’s true, wages are up. Nominal wage growth for nonfarm employees was up 5.1% in the 12 months ending in November, according to the Economic Policy Institute.


Still, inflation-adjusted wages have been falling fast during Biden’s tenure, meaning that workers have less purchasing power than when he came into office. Median weekly real earnings have actually fallen by 3.4% since the start of 2021, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Put simply, wage growth is not enough to buffer consumers from the 6.5% inflation. Workers are getting paid more dollars than a year ago, but they are also being forced to spend much more of that money to purchase the same goods they did last year.

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