Biden touts better-than-expected June jobs report: 'Our economy is on the move'

President Biden on Friday took a victory lap after the better-than-expected June jobs report, crediting his administration’s economic agenda for the strongest hiring gain in 10 months.

“Our economy is on the move, and we have COVID on the run,” Biden said during remarks from the White House. “We’re aiming for full employment – and that means keeping our pace of job growth. But this progress is a testament to our commitment to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”

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The Labor Department said in its Friday report that nonfarm payrolls increased 850,000 for the month, well above the 700,000 predicted by Refinitiv economists. The unemployment rate, however, ticked up slightly to 5.9%, missing the 5.7% expectation. It was a marked improvement from May, when the economy added 583,000 jobs.

The president argued the report is evidence that his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan is directly responsible for boosting the labor market’s recovery from the worst downturn in nearly a century. The package, passed by Democrats in March, included a $1,400 stimulus check for most Americans and billions in funding to help accelerate the vaccine distribution. 

“None of this happened by accident, it’s a direct result of the American Rescue Plan,” Biden said. “People questioned whether or not we should do that, even though we didn’t have bipartisan support. Well, it worked.”

The president argued there’s “more work to do” to ensure the economy reaches full employment. There are still about 6.8 million fewer jobs than there were in February 2020, before the pandemic took hold.

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Biden is pushing for a $973 billion bipartisan infrastructure deal, in addition to a second, larger package that would make massive investments in so-called “human” infrastructure, including expanding health care, bolstering child care and combating climate change. The latter would be funded by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans earning more than $400,000.

“This agreement is going to pave the way for a generational investment to modernize our infrastructure and create millions of jobs,” he said. 

The report came at a pivotal time for the White House after two months of lackluster job growth, leading to Republican criticism that the unprecedented level of government stimulus has led to runaway inflation and anemic hiring as Americans are paid to stay home. 

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The solid headline figure provided the White House with fresh fodder that the opposite is happening. Consumers, flush with cash, are spending money, with rental homes and flights booked up, concerts selling out and bookings at restaurants and other entertainment venues soaring – leading to a surge in hiring last month. 

“The strong jobs number is a welcome surprise, and so are clues that future reports will match or top today’s report,” said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union.