White House economic adviser addresses inflation, touts economic progress in call with regional reporters
Economist Jared Bernstein also shared state-by-state data on the economic progress achieved since President Joe Biden took office.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Economist Jared Bernstein called inflation President Joe Biden's "top domestic priority" in a call with reporters Monday afternoon, June 6.
Bernstein, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, shared Biden's plan for addressing inflation while also touting some of his economic achievements since taking office.
He framed the conversation with reporters in terms of economic headwinds and tailwinds. Headwinds, like inflation, are things blowing against the economy's growth. Tailwinds are the things pushing the economy along.
"When the president took office, the recovery had stalled. COVID was upon the land and almost nobody was vaccinated," Bernstein began. "Today, after a year and a half, with shots in arms and checks in pockets from the Rescue Plan, we achieved the most recovery in modern history by many metrics."
Bernstein reported that the job market is currently the strongest it's been in the post-World War II era, with 8.7 million jobs added since Biden took office.
"In 2021, we had the fastest decline of unemployment on record, with the national unemployment rate around 3.6%, about back to where we were pre-pandemic," Bernstein said. "This is years ahead of what forecasters thought would be the case."
Furthermore, a recent report from the Federal Reserve found a higher percentage of Americans reported feeling comfortable at the end of 2021 than at any time since the survey was first given in 2013.
"This is pretty remarkable when you think that it's after a couple of years of COVID — with 2020 being the deepest recession on record since the Great Depression," he said.
Bernstein said these tailwinds have put the U.S. in a stronger economic position than almost any other developed country.
"According to the IMF, our economy will be larger at the end of this year relative to its pre-pandemic size than any other in the G7," he said. "We're also expected to grow faster this year than China since the first time since '76."
Bernstein also shared the president's three-tiered approach for fighting inflation and other headwinds.
Federal Reserve: Bernstein said the president believes in an independent Federal Reserve. He said when the Federal Reserve employs a "rate-raising regime," presidents often try to encourage them to change course in order to help boost economic growth.
Price pressures: Bernstein talked about things the Biden administration has done to alleviate supply chain issues, such as reducing the time shipping containers sit in ports. But he said further help from Congress is needed. "We need help from Congress to lower some of the real constraints to family budgets, whether it's housing costs, prescription drugs, child care or elder care, or the cost of an education," Bernstein said.
Reducing the debt: It is here Bernstein is the most optimistic. "Recently, the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan scorekeeper, projected the deficit will fall by $1.7 trillion this year, the largest reduction in history," he said. "Some have been dismissive of that, erroneously so, that it's just fiscal policy rolling off. That's not correct. It's also driven by much stronger than expected revenue receipts to our treasurer spun off by economic growth."
Bernstein also shared state-by-state data on the economic progress achieved since Biden took office.
Employment: Since Jan. 2021, the North Dakota economy has added 14,300 jobs. The state economy has recovered 72% of the jobs lost between February 2020 and April 2020.
The state's unemployment rate fell from 4.7% in January 2021 to 2.8% in April 2022.
Initial claims for unemployment insurance fell 77% since Biden took office, from around 1,200 at the start to about 270 for the week ending May 28, 2022.
Small Businesses: Residents of North Dakota applied to start more new businesses during Biden's first year in office than in any other year since the series started in 2005.
Poverty: North Dakota's Supplemental Poverty Measure was projected to be 7.6% in 2021, lower than 8.6% on a comparable measure in 2018.
The Supplemental Poverty Measure for children under 18 in North Dakota was projected to be 4.3% in 2021, lower than 4.8% on a comparable measure in 2018.
Vaccinations: The number of fully vaccinated people in North Dakota increased from approximately 0 in January 2021 to 425,000 as of May 2022.
Employment: Since January 2021, the Minnesota economy has added 108,800 jobs (3.9% of January 2021 employment in Minnesota). The state economy has recovered 79% of the jobs lost between February 2020 and April 2020.
The state’s unemployment rate fell from 4.2% in January 2021 to 2.2% in April 2022. This is the lowest unemployment rate for the state on record (series started in 1976).
Initial claims for Unemployment Insurance in Minnesota fell 68% since Biden took office, from around 11,000 at the start of the administration to about 3,600 for the week ending May 28, 2022.
The quits rate, a measure of labor market strength (since people generally quit jobs to take better jobs), rose from 1.8% in January 2021 to 2.6% in March 2022.
Small Businesses: Residents of Minnesota applied to start more new businesses during Biden’s first year in office than in any other year since the series started in 2005.
Poverty: Minnesota’s Supplemental Poverty Measure was projected to be 4.9% in 2021, lower than 8.4% on a comparable measure in 2018.
The Supplemental Poverty Measure for children under 18 in Minnesota was projected to be 2.0% in 2021, lower than 5.7% on a comparable measure in 2018.
Vaccinations: The number of fully vaccinated people in Minnesota has increased from approximately 0 in January 2021 to 3,914,000 as of May 2022.