This week’s Labor Department report showed that U.S. businesses added fewer jobs in August than in any other month this year, but Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Saturday spun the disappointing figures and used them to paint a picture of economic recovery.
In the weekly White House address, Mr. Biden — filling in for President Obama, who returned from a NATO summit in Wales late Friday evening — said the administration’s policies have helped stabilize the nation’s economy but that more must be done to aid the middle class.
“Yesterday’s jobs report was another reminder of how far we’ve come. We’ve had 54 straight months of job creation. And that’s the longest streak of uninterrupted job growth in the United States’ history,” the vice president said. “We’ve gone from losing 9 million jobs during the financial crisis to creating 10 million jobs. We’ve reduced the unemployment rate from 10 percent in October of 2009 to 6.1 percent today … That’s all good news. But an awful lot of middle class Americans are still not feeling the effects of this recovery.”
The jobs numbers came at the same time the Federal Reserve released a study showing that only the richest 10 percent of Americans saw their median incomes rise during the Obama administration, undercutting the White House’s message that its policies are benefiting middle-class and poor workers.
Furthermore, Friday’s jobs report was widely viewed as a major disappointment, despite Mr. Biden’s words. U.S. businesses added just 142,000 new jobs in August, far below the average of 212,000 each month for the past year, according to the Labor Department report.
Wall Street also had predicted that August would bring at least 200,000 new jobs, just as June and July did.
Republicans pounced on the report and, much like Mr. Biden, used it to push their own narrative.
“Today’s disappointing report, coupled with last week’s bleak economic forecast from the Congressional Budget Office, shows a pattern of weakness in the Obama economy that has too many Americans still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’” House Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday.
The Ohio Republican also called on the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to act on a host of GOP-backed jobs bills, which have cleared the House but have yet to come up for a vote in the Senate.
Beyond the jobs report itself, Mr. Biden also used his address to push for tax reform, a hike in the minimum wage and other agenda items.
“Economists acknowledge that if we do these and other things, wages will go up and we’ll increase the Gross Domestic Product of the United States,” he said.