President Biden on Friday cheered the U.S. Department of Labor’s latest job numbers, which beat most analysts’ expectations.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 943,000 workers in July as the unemployment rate fell to 5.4%, the Labor Department said.
“While our economy is far from complete, and while we have doubtlessly will have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle delta a surge of COVID, what is indisputable now is this: The Biden plan is working,” Biden said during a press briefing later that day.
Analysts surveyed by Refintiv were expecting 870,000 jobs gained and the unemployment rate to fall to 5.7% from 5.9%. June’s reading was revised higher by 88,000 jobs to 938,000.
The president added that the Senate’s passing of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package on Thursday will “end years of gridlock in Washington and create millions of good-paying jobs and put America on a new path to win the race for the economy in the 21st century.”
“Historic investment in roads and rail and transit and bridges and clean energy and clean water will enable us not only to build back but to build back better than before the economic crisis,” the president said. “I want to thank the bipartisan group of senators working together and the committee.”
The president also touted the country’s vaccination rate. More than 70% of Americans have received at least the first dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though some states are seeing spikes in cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant.
He noted, however, that “today is not one of celebration.”
“It’s one to remind us we got a lot of hard work left to be done, both to beat the Delta variant and to continue our advance of economic recovery,” he said. “We all know what it starts with. And I said again and again, this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. So we have to get more people vaccinated.”
The U.S. economy has gained 16.7 million jobs since April 2020 but is down by 5.7 million from pre-pandemic levels.
Notable job gains were seen in leisure and hospitality (+380,000), which saw two-thirds of the jobs gained in food services and drinking places. Public and private education (+261,000), professional and business services (+60,000), transportation and warehousing (+50,000) also saw sizable gains. Construction and wholesale trade were little changed.
The jobs gains occurred as three additional states ended the supplemental $300 per week in unemployment benefits. A fourth state, Maryland, was scheduled to end the benefits but was blocked from doing so by a Baltimore judge.