What if the economy created a record number jobs but Americans didn't believe it?
This is the question President Joe Biden was asked. His Friday morning announcement of historic gains and a low unemployment rate of 4% combined with historic gains in new job creation was delivered with the gritty teeth of a leader frustrated by the fact that he has to tell the public that these numbers are a good thing.
Biden stated that more than 6.6million jobs have been created since he assumed office. 467,000 were created in January 2022. This is far more than any possible gain or loss of 300,000 jobs, which was anticipated, in remarks to the White House.
"I can't recall another year in which so many people worked in this country." There is a reason. Biden stated that it never happened. He added that history has been made in this area, proving his point. It's the country's strongest economic growth in almost 40 years.
This was a cause for celebration for both Democrats and Biden supporters. Republicans saw it as an asterisk, arguing that supply-chain and inflation are the real economic problems facing average Americans.
Biden's low approval rating on the economy has not been affected by the positive news about job growth - which is usually good news for Americans of all political stripes.
Recent Quinnipiac survey showed that 30% of Americans consider the economy excellent or good. 68% call it fair or poor. The survey found that 36% approve of President Biden's economic management, while 57% disapprove.
Similar results are found in other polls, but they do not show any connection to actual numbers. A CNBC/Change poll in January showed that 47% believe the stock market is not doing well, compared to 24% who thought so a year ago.
The stock market is stronger than it was last year: CNBC/Change's survey revealed that the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 35,897 in mid-December 2021. The stock market average for the previous week was 29,861.
Biden's problems stem from the fact that inflation is high. Joel Naroff, president and CEO of Naroff Economics, says that people "may be receiving decent pay increases but it's still not keeping up with inflation." He says that when you add rising gas prices to it, it creates a "bad economy ,'''."
Final jobs numbers are not as well-received by the media than preliminary estimates. These have been disappointing in the past months, but were revised upwards as final counts came in.
Last summer's preliminary estimates were far too optimistic about job growth. Biden's approval ratings on the economy were also higher. Final numbers in November and December added 709,000 jobs to the initial 448,000. Analysts say that the public's mindset was still rooted in the earlier figures.
Erica Groshen is a former U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner. She attributes the over- and under-estimation of monthly job reports to the pandemic. She says that although the bureau applies "seasonal adjustments” to its calculations, the numbers are distorted because people haven’t behaved as usual during the pandemic (such summer vacations).
However, it's balanced for the year.
Groshen is now senior economist at Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He says that despite the 2020 craziness, the payroll numbers were nearly right on the mark in terms of total job creation.
The ADP National Employment Report is another factor. It predicts nonfarm job numbers, and sets a benchmark for economists and media to expect from the BLS. The report, which was released Wednesday, came in lower than expected. This adds fuel to the weak projections for the jobs report.
Fox News broadcast a segment on Friday morning that predicted grim economic news. The segment was just minutes before the 467,000 number had been announced. It featured the chyron's "January jobs report" which was forecast to be the worst since years. According to the prediction, the economy could lose up to 300,000.
The chyron was changed after the actual numbers were revealed. "How could this have happened?" It asked.
Many of the reactions to the numbers fall along party lines. "Biden boom," Sen. Cory Booker (New Jersey Democrat), tweeted a story about the record-high number of jobs. tweeted an early story about a poll that showed 75% of Americans think the economy is 'not so bad/poor'.
According to polling, there is a strong correlation between political ideologies and people's opinions about Biden's economic management. A YouGov poll found that 25% of Americans thought Biden was "good" or fair on the economy. 70% rated his performance as "fair" or poor.
Broken down by party affiliation, 46% rated Biden "excellent" or “good” on the economy while only 11% of Republicans agreed. 47% of those who voted in Biden for 2020 gave him positive economic marks. Only 7% of Trump voters agreed.
No matter what their financial situation is, Naroff states that "they may say things really are terrible because Republicans don't have power." It's not being a Republican. It doesn't matter what happens to Trump people, it's horrible."