Job market slowdown looms over Biden reelection bid

President Biden and Democrats are in economic purgatory with less than a year until the pivotal 2024 election.

The U.S. economy is slowing down after years of rapid post-pandemic expansion, taking steam out of inflation on the way down. But the slow march toward an even-keeled economy is doing few political favors for Biden and his party.

Biden’s approval ratings have fallen to record lows as Americans feel the pinch of high interest rates and plateauing inflation.

While declines in job gains and wage growth may help the inflation fight, they also leave the administration with dwindling ways to sell Americans on its handling of the economy.

Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, said the job market slowdown “partly explains why job seekers and new hires are feeling more stressed out than they have in over a year.”

“Rising financial strain, paired with declining worker leverage, are taking their toll. The decline in real disposable income last month suggests that consumer spending could cool further in the coming months, putting yet more downward pressure on the labor market.”

Record job gains but record-low approval

President Biden
President Biden heads toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday, November 3, 2023. (Greg Nash)

Biden and Democratic lawmakers have struggled to turn record-shattering job growth into positive polling on the economy.

The U.S. has added roughly 14 million jobs since Biden took office in January 2021 — far more than any of his predecessors. Millions of those jobs were simply products of a recovery already in motion before Biden’s election, but the president has still made the speed of the comeback a centerpiece of his reelection campaign.

“Today’s report shows that Bidenomics is growing the economy from the middle out and bottom up—not the top down,” the White House said in a Friday statement.

Biden and Democrats are eager to claim credit for the resilience of the U.S. labor market, which many economists predicted would be losing jobs by now.

With 150,000 jobs added last month and a jobless rate of 3.9 percent, experts say the U.S. is still adding far more than enough jobs to keep the economy out of recession.

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