Biden lauds 'more good news' on jobs as Republicans continue criticism of inflation

Polls show US voters are focused on the state of the US economy heading into November midterm elections. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden hailed "more good news" after the latest government data showed US employers added a healthy number of jobs in August, even as a stream of people entering the job market pushed the unemployment rate higher.

"The great American jobs machine continues its comeback," Mr Biden said on Friday at the White House.

"The bottom line is jobs are up, wages are up, people are back to work. And we're seeing some signs that inflation may be - may be, I'm not over promising - may be beginning to ease," he added.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 315,000 last month following a revised 526,000 advance in July, a Labour Department report showed on Friday.

The unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to a six-month high of 3.7 per cent, the first increase since January, as the participation rate climbed.

The latest data indicated that working-age women were now employed at rates not seen since before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Biden said.

The state of the economy will be a key factor heading into the November midterm elections that will determine whether Democrats retain their slim House and Senate majorities.

Polls indicate that the economy is voters' primary concern.

Ms Cecilia Rouse, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, described the report as "solid".

"That did bring along a slight increase in the unemployment rate, but overall a solid report that suggests that we're making the transition that we know we need to make in our labour market to stable, sustainable economic growth," Ms Rouse said in an interview on Friday with Bloomberg Television.

The still-low unemployment rate means the Fed will keep considering raising interest rates, as it seeks to bring down inflation. The trick for the Fed is to not act so quickly that the economy cools off and the US dips into a recession.

"This is really what the Fed is hoping for," former Fed governor and University of Chicago professor Randall Kroszner said on Friday on Bloomberg TV about the latest jobs numbers. "More people are coming back into the labour market. That helps to reduce the tightness of that market."

People shop at a grocery supermarket in Alhambra, California, in July 2022. PHOTO: AFP

The White House is "focused on not trying to work against the Fed", Ms Rouse said.

"We are aware the President wants to give the Federal Reserve the independence and the room it needs to bring down inflation," she said. "While nonetheless, putting into place good, solid policies that help to build economic capacity, so that our economy is growing in a steady, sustainable way that benefits all Americans."

Republicans have centred their criticism of Mr Biden's presidency around soaring inflation, whereas the Biden administration has touted passage of a US$437 billion (S$613 billion) health, climate and tax law, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as new subsidies for domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

"Hardworking Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, thanks to Joe Biden and Democrats' higher prices, higher taxes, and lower wages," Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement on Friday.

"As long as Democrats continue to rubber-stamp Biden's agenda and waste taxpayer dollars on their radical policies, families will continue to struggle to afford everything from gas to school supplies to groceries," she said.

Economists had projected an almost 300,000 gain in payrolls and a 3.5 per cent jobless rate, based on the median estimates in a Bloomberg survey. BLOOMBERG

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