The July jobs report is out, and it has good news. Non-farm payrolls rose by 943,000 people. That’s nearly one million people who’ve gone to work just in the last month alone.
The biggest gains came in the industries of leisure and hospitality, education, and professional business services. The other statistic that will be touted everywhere with great pride and joy is 5.4%. That’s the new unemployment rate.
All of this is excellent news. Good news for America, good news for the economy, and good news for Joe Biden. That last one is where this good news will get tainted. Politicians of all stripes will want to take credit for the good economic report.
President Biden is no exception. “Our policies are working,” he will claim. Who could argue with that question? Republicans, that’s who. The GOP will tell everyone the big leap in jobs is because the long extended free ride was over in most states. Many states, especially those with Republicans in charge, stopped paying people to stay home. Guess what? When the money stopped, people went back to work.
The unspoken victory the Biden administration won in all of this is wages. By keeping people home, Mr. Biden created a desperate situation for employers. After more than a year of COVID-19 closures, people were anxious to get their businesses up and running again. However, finding folks who would get off the couch, give up free money, and report to work turned out to be a challenge.
Employers were forced to raise the starting wage for menial jobs. $10 wasn’t enough. Neither was $12. $15 per hour to flip burgers at Burger King became commonplace. By handing out free checks and encouraging people to stay home, Mr. Biden achieved what Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer couldn’t with a failed minimum wage bill. He effectively raised wages to $15 per hour.
The wild card among the good news is the Delta variant. The CDC is again recommending masks and closures. Several big cities are threatening another lockdown.
Mr. Biden will lay claim to the great jobs and unemployment numbers, but he has also made COVID-19 restrictions his signature policy. Will he risk snuffing out the burgeoning economic flame? When Biden follows the science, will it be medical science or economic science? The two may not agree.
Most importantly, let’s celebrate the good economic news together for a couple of days before we start bashing one another again. What if we cheer for a stronger American economy? What if we recognize the help to small business owners everywhere instead of simply breaking it down and fighting on party lines?
Good jobs report. Chalk one up for the home team. America.
• Tim Constantine is a columnist for The Washington Times and hosts “The Capitol Hill Show” podcast every week from Washington, D.C.