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Low unemployment is good news for Biden ahead of State of the Union

US President Joe Biden applauded jobs figures released Friday morning showing the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 54 years, citing the report as another example that his policies are working.

“The last time the unemployment rate was this low was in May 1969,” Biden said, speaking from the White House. “More and more people are coming to the market looking for work and getting a job, a positive sign for the health of the economy going forward.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report released on Friday found the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, a nearly 54-year low, even better than the 3.6% expected by economists. Nonfarm payrolls rose 517,000 in January, far beating the market estimate of 187,000 and December’s gain of 260,000.

“We’ve created 12 million – 12 million – jobs since I took office,” Biden said. “This is by far the strongest two years of job growth in history.”

The biggest gains were in the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 128,000 jobs. Professional and business services, government and health care also posted strong gains. Friday’s jobs report showed the largest payroll gains since July, a positive sign for the economy heading into the new year.

“Even though the labor market is at all-time highs, inflation continues to fall. Inflation has now fallen for six straight months,” Biden said. “As inflation goes down, workers’ take-home pay goes up. Real wages go up, and wages for low- and middle-income workers have gone up even more.”

The average hourly wage rose 0.3%, as estimated, and 4.4% from a year ago, or 0.1 percentage point more than expected.

The report is good news for the White House ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, where he seeks a victory lap for his handling of the economy and urges members of Congress to keep the cap. Now in a divided government with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the parties poised to clash over lifting the debt ceiling, Biden must prove that message.

“Put simply, I would say Biden’s economic plan is working. Over the past two years, we’ve heard a chorus of critics roll back my economic plan,” Biden said. “Today’s data clearly shows what I’ve always known in my gut: Those critics and cynics are wrong.”


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