President Biden on Friday hailed the latest jobs report as proof that the U.S. economy is strong, even as he conceded that record high inflation and gas prices are still hurting many families’ budgets.
“There’s no denying that high prices, particularly around gasoline and food, are a real problem for people,” Mr. Biden said from his vacation town, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. “But there’s every reason for the American people to feel confident that we’ll meet these challenges because of the enormous progress we’ve made on the economy.”
Employers added a healthy 390,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department reported Friday, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged at a low 3.6%.
The president dismissed comments by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who said he plans to cut 10% of jobs at the carmaker because he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy.
“Lots of luck on his trip to the moon,” Mr. Biden said, citing higher capital spending by automakers Ford and Chrysler.
Inflation remains the biggest concern of voters, fueled especially by higher gas and grocery prices. Consumer prices rose in April at an annual rate of 8.3%, near a 40-year high.
The Republican Governors Association said the May jobs report revealed “less job growth than April and stalled employment.”
“While the Biden administration ignores skyrocketing inflation and the American energy crisis, employers and small business owners are left with no choice but to compromise on hiring to keep the lights on,” said RGA Communications Director Jesse Hunt. “Small businesses are the cornerstone of a strong economy, and Joe Biden’s neglect of hard-working Americans is just more evidence the economy will keep taking hits from his inaction and incompetence.”
The president again blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for driving up prices, despite gasoline and other consumer costs having soared prior to the war’s start in February. Mr. Biden called on Congress to help lower costs for families on other fronts such as prescription drugs and utility bills by passing proposed legislation.
“I’m doing everything I can on my own to help working families during this stretch of higher prices,” Mr. Biden said. “Congress needs to act as well.”
He rejected GOP criticism that his trillions in new spending have contributed to high inflation, pointing to projections that the federal deficit will fall by $1.7 trillion this year.
Mr. Biden said his fiscal record is far better than that of former President Donald Trump.
“My friends on the Republican side like to paint me as a big spender. Let’s look at the facts,” Mr. Biden said. “Under my predecessor, the deficit exploded, rising every single year he was in office. Under my plan, we’re on track to cut the federal deficit this year by $1.7 trillion. Unlike my predecessor the deficit has come down both years that I’ve been here. My plans have produced the strongest, fastest, most widespread economic recovery Americans ever experienced.”