WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Friday that the strong wage gains achieved during his first year in office represent the economy he promised Americans, as he addressed the release of December’s jobs report.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.6% for the month and were up 4.7% year over year. Some industries have seen especially strong wage growth in the last year: Leisure, hospitality and restaurant wages have increased a whopping 14.1% over the past 12 months, outpacing all other industries.
“This is the economy I promised and hoped for,” Biden said in remarks at the White House. “Where the biggest benefits go to the people who work the hardest and who are more often left behind. The people who have been ignored before. The people who just want a decent chance to build a decent life for their families.”
The unemployment rate in December fell to a new post-pandemic low of 3.9%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. But the economy added only 199,000 new jobs to nonfarm payrolls, less than half of what economists had predicted.
Biden framed the nationwide labor shortage as a reflection of more worker choice and mobility, not, as his critics allege, a year of overly generous government pandemic benefits that have sapped people’s need to work for a living.