Bidenomics Doesn’t Add Up for Pennsylvania or America
President Joe Biden is returning to his birth state to pitch his newly branded economic vision: Bidenomics.
Though Biden seems eager to paint a rosy economic picture, the numbers show that Bidenomics is, at best, a mixed bag. Yes, the national unemployment rate is below 4%, where it has remained for more than a year. “The last time our nation had such a long stretch of low unemployment was in the 1960s,” Biden boasted.
But the official unemployment rate tells only part of the story. It doesn’t count those who have dropped out of the labor force and aren’t seeking work.
Two other metrics – the labor-force participation rate and the employment-to-population ratio – provide a more valuable perspective.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor-force participation rate, as of June 2023, stands at 62.2%, a significant decline from 63.3% in February 2020. That one-point difference may seem small, but it represents 1.9 million missing workers.
Further proof of a nationwide labor shortage: businesses advertised about 9.8 million job openings in June. Considering that 5.9 million people are currently unemployed, most of these openings will likely remain unfilled.
The employment-to-population ratio is also lower than pre-pandemic levels – 60.3% in June 2023 compared to 61.% in January 2020. In other words, a smaller share of adults is actually working. The historically low unemployment rate is due, in part, to individuals dropping out of the labor force and not seeking work.
And that’s no surprise: many “Bidenomics” policies boost government programs that pay people not to work.
Indeed, Biden’s talking points are conspicuously inconsistent. The economy is stronger than ever, the president insists – yet the economy is so bad, he suggests, that individuals with college degrees (or even advanced degrees) struggle financially because of student loan debt. “[Student debt is] holding people up,” Biden said. “They’re in real trouble. They’re having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent.”
So, which is it: Are workers thriving or struggling? Biden can’t keep his story straight.
The president took to Twitter to spread his muddled economic message. Tweeting from the official White House account, the administration falsely claimed that inflation-adjusted income was up since Biden took office, claiming a 3.5% increase as “the largest gain over the last year.”
Federal data, however, says the exact opposite. While wages have gone up in nominal terms, they haven’t kept pace with rampant inflation. Real average hourly earnings went from $11.41 per hour in January 2021 (when Biden took office) to $11.05 in June 2023. That’s a 3% decrease, not an increase.
High inflation—largely the result of overspending, including Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which injected $1.9 trillion into an already-volatile economy—has ravaged the livelihoods of American households. According to one study, families have lost, on average, $7,400 in annual income under Biden. This loss represents more than a month of lost income for the average American household.
Simply put, Bidenomics isn’t the boon to the middle class that the president claims.
Further, Scranton Joe might find pitching the benefits of Bidenomics a hard sell in Pennsylvania.
While some states have rebounded from the pandemic, Pennsylvania remains on the sidelines. Many states have fully recovered their pandemic-era job losses, and some are thriving: Utah and Idaho lead the charge, with 10 percent job growth since February 2020. Meanwhile, with an anemic 0.6% growth rate for three years, Pennsylvania just recently regained its pre-pandemic employment levels in February.
Pennsylvania’s low official unemployment rate is, again, a deceptive economic indicator. The commonwealth has the nation’s sixth-highest unemployment rate. Tracking national trends, the Keystone State has seen 64,500 workers drop out of the labor force since January 2022.
Pennsylvania represents a microcosm of broader national uneasiness about the economy. In a recent poll, only one in three Americans approve of Biden’s economic leadership. Biden’s approval rating – now an unimpressive 41% – has stagnated for the past year.
Voters, consumers, and investors are rightly skeptical about Biden’s economic accomplishments. Bidenomics just doesn’t add up.