On Wednesday, the Biden administration was pleased to announce that new jobless claims have fallen to the lowest weekly rate in over 50 years. Meanwhile, price inflation steams ahead as consumer prices rise at the fastest pace in three decades.
The report from the Department of Labor showed total initial jobless claims last week at 199,000, a drop of 71,000. The weekly number is the lowest since the Nixon administration in 1969. The number is lower than the weekly average for 2019 of 218,000, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joe Biden described the report as an indication of a “historic jobs recovery.” In a statement, Biden said more Americans are back to work and have “money in their pockets” due to his American Rescue Plan and the government’s campaign to have Americans take the vaccine.
Many economists see the drop in unemployment claims as a positive sign of continuing job growth and increasing consumer spending. Rubeela Farooqi with High-Frequency Economics told the Wall Street Journal that the decrease in shares is a “positive signal about the labor market” and that he believes businesses are “wary of letting go of workers amid a severe labor shortage.”
The jobs report from October indicated that 531,000 new jobs were added in the month, helping the unemployment rate drop to 4.6 percent. However, the domestic economy has 4 million fewer jobs than on the eve of the pandemic in February 2020.
Commerce Department statistics show a 4.1 percent in consumer prices over a year ago. That statistic excludes food and energy, two areas where price increases have hit Americans hardest. That index is rising at its fastest rate since November 1990.
Energy costs continue to surge, jumping 30.2 percent from just a year ago. Services inflation clocked in at 6.3 percent as goods inflation rose 7.3 percent.
A YouGov survey published this week reports that 37 percent of Americans say that they have been impacted by inflation a “great deal,” with 40 percent reporting “some” impact.
Joe Biden’s approval rating as president currently sits at 43 percent. He said that Congress can help battle inflation, bypassing his Build Back Better spending bill, promising that it will somehow “cut costs” for Americans “without adding to price pressures.” Whether he can convince 50 senators of the validity of that wild promise remains to be seen.