Biden touts jobs numbers, falling gas prices: 'The program is working'

Pointing to robust June jobs numbers and falling gas prices, President Biden said Friday that his economic "program is working."

"Today the Labor Department reported that we've added 372,000 jobs last month, 372,000. Here's why it's important: Our private sector has now recovered all of the jobs lost during the pandemic and added jobs on top of that," Biden said at a White House event where he signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to abortion pills and contraception in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. "We have more Americans working today in the private sector than any day under my predecessor, more today than anytime in American history, today."

Friday's strong jobs report eased fears that a U.S. recession was imminent, though some economists cautioned that low unemployment and wage gains would not help tame sky-high inflation.

Even as Biden hailed the strong jobs numbers, polls have showed his popularity has been sharply diminished due to factors such as rising prices and crime rates. For that reason, he made sure to temper his celebration.

Joe Biden
President Biden speaks before signing an executive order at the White House on Friday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

"Now, look, I know times are tough. Prices are too high. Families are facing a cost-of-living crunch, but today's economic news confirms the fact that my economic plan is moving this country in a better direction," he said. "The unemployment rate is near a historic low of 3.6%. Private sector jobs are at a record high. Gas prices, still way too high, have fallen now 25 days in a row, and this week we saw the second-largest single-day decrease in gas prices in a decade. We still have a lot of work to do. I'm not suggesting there's [not] a lot of work to do, but I am suggesting we're making significant progress. The program is working."

That rosy assessment stands in stark contrast to the constant messaging from Biden's political opposition, who blame him for high gas prices and inflation more generally.

While Friday's jobs report showed that wages had risen 5.1% in June, that was lower than the 8.6% inflation rate measured in May, the last month of data available.

While inflation is hardly a problem limited to the U.S., it could very well help decide which party prevails in the midterm elections and the 2024 general election beyond.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Friday asked Americans, "Which problems would you like the government to work on in the next year?" The top two answers were "personal finances/cost of living" (44%) and "inflation" (40%).