Biden lauds strong October jobs report as House works toward votes on big economic bills

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US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the October jobs report from the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC on November 5, 2021.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden lauded the October jobs report Friday, saying the strong gains in employment and the falling unemployment rate are evidence that his economic plan is working.

The positive jobs news came as the House worked to potentially pass Biden’s signature domestic legislation Friday: a $1.75 trillion social spending and clean energy bill and a $1 trillion infrastructure package.

The strong jobs growth and the potential legislative win could hardly come at a more important time for the president. Despite the recent job gains, inflation and a global supply chain crisis continue to dominate many Americans’ sentiments about the economy.

“There’s a lot more to be done. We still have to tackle the costs that American families are facing. But this recovery is faster, stronger and fairer and wider than almost anyone would have predicted,” Biden said from the White House.

The U.S. job market snapped back in October, with nonfarm payrolls rising more than expected while the unemployment rate fell to 4.6%, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 531,000 for the month, compared with the Dow Jones estimate of 450,000. The jobless rate had been expected to edge down to 4.7%.

“Before we passed the American Rescue Plan, forecasters said it would take until the end of 2023 to get to the 4.6 unemployment rate,” Biden said, referring to the Covid-19 relief bill Congress passed earlier this year. “Today, we’ve reached that rate two years before forecasters thought it was possible.”

Private payrolls were even stronger, rising 604,000 as a loss of 73,000 government jobs pulled down the headline number. October’s gains represented a sharp pickup from September, which gained 312,000 jobs after the initial Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate of 194,000 saw a substantial upward revision in Friday’s report.

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The unexpectedly strong employment numbers also reflect the continuing rise in U.S. Covid vaccination rates. As of mid-October, 77% of eligible Americans had received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the White House.

“For our economy to fully recover, we need to keep driving vaccinations up and Covid down,” Biden said.

As vaccination rates have increased this fall, the spread of the highly contagious delta variant has slowed, from an average of 153,000 new cases daily in late July to about 67,000 at the start of November, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, Biden argued that his bills will lower inflation, which has clouded Americans’ view of the economy despite other positive developments.

“If your number one issue is the cost of living, your number one priority should be seeing Congress pass these bills,” he said.

But many economists are doubtful that the legislation will have an immediate impact on either inflation or the stalled supply chain. Rising costs and goods shortages are being driven by a complex set of intertwined factors, many of them beyond the control of any government.

Despite the good economic news, polls show that voters are losing confidence in Biden and Democrats’ handling of the economy.

The passage of Biden’s signature bills coupled with several more months of job gains could go far towards improving the president’s approval ratings.

—- CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report from New York.