US presidents usually dream of a historically low unemployment rate, but for Joe Biden, a tight labor market is also synonymous with worrying inflation, which could cost the Democratic Party dearly. Joe Biden’s popularity has plummeted in recent months due to inflation, even as the unemployment rate has gradually declined. “Politically speaking, nothing matters more” than rising prices, said Charlie Cook, founder of the Cook Political Report, a popular political newsletter.
Inflation hit a 40-year high of 8.5% year-on-year in March, from 7.9% in February, according to the consumer price index (CPI) released on Tuesday. Still, job growth is a traditional measure of presidential success, and the White House has tried to draw public attention to progress in the job market. Weekly jobless claims are at a five-decade low and the jobless rate is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.
A price increase that has not been seen for forty years
But, as Charlie Cook points out, these arguments have failed to win over public opinion, as a rise in consumer prices not seen in four decades hits gas, food, rent and other spending. Joe Biden’s approval ratings now hover around 42.2%, according to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight. With the midterm elections seven months away, there are growing expectations that elected Democrats will lose limited control of one, or possibly both, houses of Congress.
“High prices prevent Americans from feeling the rise of Biden,” said Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, a center-left think tank. Joe Biden took office at a time when unemployment was on a downward trajectory after rising to 14.7% at the height of the pandemic, after companies laid off workers en masse when covid-19 broke out. . Under him, the unemployment rate has fallen steadily throughout 2021, reaching 3.6% last month, one step below its pre-pandemic level.
But with consumer prices rising at the strongest rate since late 1981, the Biden administration is struggling to defend labor market progress.
A designated president
Polls show that Americans are pointing fingers at the president. Nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Joe Biden’s handling of the economy, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released late last month. Meanwhile, according to Navigator, a progressive polling firm, more Americans believe the economy is losing jobs than gaining them. The high rate of inflation is the result of global component shortages, the US Central Bank’s (Fed) long-term low interest rate policy, and fiscal stimulus that has inflated US consumer demand. USA
But the Joe Biden administration has also missteps in its priorities with Congress, Will Marshall stresses. While he garnered support from both political sides to overhaul the country’s infrastructure, the Democratic leader was unable to get Congress to pass Build Back Better, a sweeping plan to overhaul social services. “Over time, the boiling job market should be to the president’s advantage,” the expert said. “But right now people aren’t making those connections, and inflation is part of the problem.”
To curb this price increase, the Fed is raising interest rates, and many economists believe that the peak of inflation will flatten as the year progresses. But I’m not sure it will come soon enough for Joe Biden. Both of his predecessors in the White House saw his parties lose control of the House in the first midterm elections. And Joe Biden could meet the same fate, predicts Charlie Cook. “Are we really going to see a significant reduction in inflation at the start of the vote between the end of September and October? I don’t think that’s realistic at all,” he warned.