Biden’s boasts about 2023 economy and ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ are more spin than reality
2023 is concluding with a polling whimper for President Joe Biden. A series of new polls show Biden’s favorability is plummeting. His polling on the economy is especially bad. According to a new Pew Research poll, only 36% of respondents say Biden “make[s] good decisions about economic policy.” A new Fox News survey reveals just 14% of Americans think Biden’s economic policy impact has been helpful.
In an effort to reverse these falling poll numbers and duck the cost-of-living crisis facing many Americans, Biden has shifted his economic remarks of late from “Bidenomics” to job creation. “President Biden likes to talk about ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ when touting his economic record,” reported the Wall Street Journal this month. “The problem is that voters are far more worried about prices, prices, prices.”
Yet a closer look at the 2023 labor market data reveals the jobs picture is not as rosy as Biden’s rhetoric.
Following the November jobs report released in early December, Biden boasted his administration has created “over 14 million jobs.” In a Labor Day speech, he claimed, “We created more jobs in two years than any president ever created in a four-year [term].”
This job creation assertion is misleading because 9.4 million of the jobs created under Biden are merely backfill jobs temporarily lost during the pandemic. Excluding post-pandemic job returners, the economy has created an additional 4.7 million jobs under Biden. That’s significantly fewer than the 6 million created under Trump at the same point in his term.
The distribution of job creation under Biden also matters. The 2.55 million jobs created through the first 11 months of 2023 deserve an asterisk because fully half have come in the relatively unproductive government (636,000) and healthcare (623,000) sectors.
For comparison’s sake, average monthly government job creation in 2023 is 3.9 times higher than the rate of the previous administration (pre-COVID-19) and 2.4 times faster for healthcare.
Rapid expansion of government jobs is not a sign of a healthy market economy. These jobs generally extract funds from the private sector through taxation that otherwise could go to higher-valued economic activity.
Some healthcare jobs are productive, but many should be considered quasi-government jobs because government funds approximately 50% of healthcare spending. Many healthcare jobs are bureaucratic and feed inefficient middlemen who exist between patients and doctors.
The government recently announced the U.S. spent $4.5 trillion on healthcare in 2022, amounting to 17.3% of GDP, around 50% more than what developed nations like Germany, France and Japan spend. Job creation in this bloated sector of the economy, which will only put further upward pressure on costs, is nothing to celebrate.
Meanwhile, average private-sector wage growth remains stagnant, growing at the same rate as core inflation over the last 12 months after declining in real terms during the two previous years.
Is a labor market where employees cannot demand wages commensurate with cost of living increases truly that robust? The president’s terrible economic poll numbers also indicate Americans do not believe the labor market is as strong as Biden suggests.
Even with the Federal Reserve’s interest rate pivot announced in December, the U.S. economy faces numerous headwinds. These include high wholesale and consumer costs, elevated interest rates and record consumer and sovereign debt levels.
No wonder Biden is choosing to devote his economic remarks to jobs. But for those Americans not working in government or healthcare, the 2023 labor market is nothing to celebrate.