Biden sees US economy as powering past the pandemic

Biden sees US economy as powering past the pandemic

WASHINGTON-The Associated Press
Biden sees US economy as powering past the pandemic

U.S. President Joe Biden got the pleasant surprise that the U.S. economy had powered through the omicron wave of the coronavirus and posted 467,000 new jobs in January.

It showed just how much the pandemic’s grip on the economy has faded, though the nation is still grappling with high inflation.

“Our country is taking everything that COVID has to throw at us, and we’ve come back stronger,” Biden declared at the White House on Feb. 5.

The jobs report suggested the United States has entered a new phase in its recovery from the pandemic. And it capped something of a comeback week for the president.

On Feb. 4, the House passed a bill to jumpstart computer chip production and development, a key step for reconciling differences with an earlier measure approved by the Senate.

Harvard University economist Jason Furman, a former adviser in the Obama White House, said the jobs report showed that employers and workers had gotten over the havoc caused by the pandemic.

The virus “is now one factor among many and no longer the dominant factor it was,” said Furman. He pointed to broad strength across the report and the addition of 151,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector - restaurants, hotels, entertainment and more in an area of the economy most prone to disruption from the pandemic.

Yet as the economy strengthens, a question for Biden personally - and his presidency - is whether he can stitch together the positives in a convincing way to revive his support that has declined in polls in the past year.

Jobs aside, Biden acknowledged things are not entirely rosy. Inflation remains a major challenge, with consumer prices increasing at 7 percent over the past year.

The strong jobs report, however, may give the Federal Reserve reason to raise interest rates and pull back on its support for the economy to reduce inflation.

Biden tried to make a play for the record books _ touting the gains that have occurred under his stewardship. At 4 percent unemployment and 6.6 million jobs added during his first full year, he’s making his case that his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package was a wise choice and that lawmakers should now support the rest of his agenda to prolong the growth.

“History has been made here,” Biden declared “It comes alongside the largest drop in unemployment rate in a single year on record, the largest reduction in childhood poverty ever recorded in a single year. And the strongest economic growth this country has seen in nearly 40 years.”