Jan 6, 2022
Joe Biden December Jobs Report Speech Transcript
President Joe Biden spoke about the December jobs report on January 6, 2022. Read the transcript of the speech briefing here.
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President Joe Biden: (00:00)
Shortly, you’re going to hear a helicopter landing outside the window here. I’m supposed to be in Colorado looking at the damage with the governor of a godawful firestorm that rolled through, and then I’m heading off to do Harry Reid’s funeral.
President Joe Biden: (00:21)
So, but this morning, I want to talk about, I think it’s a historic day for our economic recovery. Today’s national unemployment rate fell below 4% to 3.9%, the sharpest one-year drop in unemployment in United States history. The first time the unemployment rate has been under 4% in the first year of a presidential term in 50 years, 3.9% unemployment rate. Years faster than experts said we’d be able to do it. And we have added 6.4 million new jobs since January of last year in one year. That’s the most jobs in any calendar year by any president in history.
President Joe Biden: (01:14)
How? How? How did that happen? Well, the American Rescue Plan got the economy off its back and moving again, back on its feet, getting over 200 million Americans fully vaccinated, got people out of their homes and back to work, even in the face of wave after wave of COVID. We got schools open, we got booster shots, we brought down the poverty rate. It went from 20 million people on unemployment roll a year ago to under two million people on the unemployment rolls today. America’s back to work, and there are more historical accomplishments. The increase in Americans joining the labor force was the fastest this year of any year since 1996. And among prime age were workers, ages 25 to 54, their increase in labor force participation was the biggest in 43 years, record job creation, record unemployment declines, record increases in the people in the labor force. I would argue the Biden economic plan is working and is getting America back to work, back on its feet.
President Joe Biden: (02:28)
But the record doesn’t stop there. Today’s report also tells us record wage gains, especially for workers in some of America’s toughest jobs, women and men who work in the frontline jobs in restaurants, hotels, travel, tourism, desk clerks, line cooks, waitstaff, bellman. They all saw their wages at a historic high, the highest in history. Their pay went up almost 16% this year, far ahead of inflation, which is still a concern. Overall, wage gains for all workers who are not supervisors went up more in 2021 than any year in four decades. There’s been a lot of press coverage about people quitting their jobs. Well, today’s report tells you why. Americans are moving up to better jobs with better pay with better benefits. That’s why they’re quitting their jobs. This isn’t about workers walking away and refusing to work, it’s about workers able to take a step up to provide for themselves and their families.
President Joe Biden: (03:37)
This is the kind of recovery I promised and hoped for for the American people, where the biggest benefits go to the people who work the hardest and are more often left behind, the people who have been ignored before, the people who just want a decent chance to build a decent life for their families, just given a clear shot. For them, wages are up, job opportunities are up, layoffs are down to the lowest levels in decades, and they’re more chances than ever to get ahead. No wonder one leading economic, excuse me, analyst described what we’ve accomplished in 2021 as the strongest first year economic track record of any president in the last 50 years.
President Joe Biden: (04:25)
Today, America is the only leading economy in the world where the economy as a whole is stronger than before the pandemic. Now I hear Republicans say today that my talking about this strong record shows that I don’t understand. I don’t understand. A lot of people are still suffering they say. Well, they are. Or that I’m not focused on inflation, malarkey. They want to talk down the recovery because they voted against the legislation that made it happen. They voted against the tax cuts for middle class families. They voted against the funds we needed to reopen our schools, to keep police officers and firefighters on the job, to lower healthcare premiums. They voted against the funds were now using to buy COVID booster shots and more antiviral pills. I refuse to let them stand on the way of this recovery.
President Joe Biden: (05:23)
And now, my focus is on keeping this recovery strong and durable, not withstanding Republican obstructionism. Because I know that even as jobs and families’ incomes have recovered, families are still feeling the pinch of prices and cost. So we’re taking that on as well. And the way to do that is not to step back from the economic progress we’ve made, but to build on it. I’ve laid out a three-part plan to address cost families are facing. One, first part of that plan, fixing the supply chain. Two, protecting consumers and promoting competition. Three, lowering kitchen table costs, including with my Build Back Better Act.
President Joe Biden: (06:14)
First, the supply chain. A couple months ago, we heard a lot of dire warnings about supply chain problems leading to a crisis around the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We acted. We brought together business and labor to solve the problems. The much predicted crisis didn’t occur. The Grinch did not steal Christmas nor any votes. Look, the number of containers sitting on docks for more than eight days is now down by nearly 40%. The number of packages delivered on time was nearly 99%. Workers stayed on the job and did the job to bring goods to consumers. We’re continuing to work to speed up every step of this process, the ports, trains, trucking.My bipartisan infrastructure plan law included significant investments in each of these areas. And I want to thank the 19 Republicans in the Senate and the 13 in the House who stepped in to help pass it so we didn’t have to face another filibuster and lose a very badly needed plan.
President Joe Biden: (07:31)
The second area, protecting American consumers. In the last few decades in too many industries, a handful of giant companies dominate the market. In meat processing, railroads, shipping. Too often, they use their power to squeeze out smaller competitors, stifle new entrepreneurs, and raise the prices, reducing options for consumers and exploiting workers to keep wages unfairly low. You see that in your own life. Just look at your grocery bill and the cost of meat. It’s not because the cattle farmer’s getting rich. Matter of fact, it’s the exact opposite. It’s because fewer processors can charge grocery stores much more money for their ground beef, for example. You’ve heard me say before, capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation. And I’m determined to end the exploitation. Later this month, I’ll be meeting with my Competition Council, which includes key economic leaders from across my administration, to keep pushing for more broad action and increase competition across our economy because healthy competition produces lower prices, higher wages, and more dynamic and innovative economies. That makes everybody better off.
President Joe Biden: (08:53)
Third, I’m working to reduce the largest cost burden of household budgets, costs that don’t need to be such a burden. And the biggest weapon in our arsenal is my Build Back Better Act, which will reduce what families have to pay for basic necessities to live a life, raise a family, from prescription drugs to healthcare, to childcare and more help so families can cover the cost of raising their children and caring for their loved ones, their older loved ones. As we’ve seen over and over and over again throughout this pandemic, if people can’t find affordable childcare, they can’t work. Right now, there are two million extremely qualified men who have not been able to return to work because they can’t find or can’t afford childcare. On healthcare, we’ve made quality coverage through the ACA more affordable than ever before, with families saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums and four out of five consumers finding quality coverage for under $10 a month. And the result when you reduce the cost of healthcare, more people can afford to get it. Over four million people have gained coverage since I became president.
President Joe Biden: (10:14)
You’ve heard me say it a million times, having healthcare is also about peace of mind. For example, we’re going to make it so nobody will pay more than $35 a month for insulin. Imagine you’re a parent, and with the one of the 200,000 children in this country have Type 1 diabetes. Insulin can cost on average, it’s averaged 650 bucks a month, but cannot cost as much as a thousand dollars a month, even though a vial of that insulin costs about 10 bucks to manufacture. We can do all this. We can do it without increasing inflation, without increasing the deficit. Nobody making more than $400,000 a year, less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes. So we’re going to keep working on these fronts.
President Joe Biden: (11:09)
Some of them have components that are immediate, like unsticking the supply chain. Some will show their benefits over time, like investments in infrastructure, but all will help America’s families. And it’s urgent we get moving on all of it without delay. Because at this moment as a country, we face an important choice. Do we take the steps to create an economy with strong, sustainable growth, higher wages, and more opportunities for all Americans? Or do we settle for an economy that wasn’t working for our middle class even before the pandemic began, an economy that delivered sluggish growth, stagnant wages, limited opportunities? I’m not an economist, but I’ve been doing this a long time. But here’s the way to look at it. If car prices are too high right now, they’re two solutions. You increase the supply of cars by making more of them or you reduce demand for cars by making Americans poorer. That’s the choice. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of people in the second camp. You’re hearing them complain that wages are rising too fast among very middle class and working class people who have endured decades of stalled incomes.
President Joe Biden: (12:30)
Their view of the economy says the only solution to our current, future challenges is to make the working families that are the backbone of our country poor or keep them in the state they’re in. It’s a pessimistic vision, and I reject it. I reject the idea that we should somehow punish people because they finally have a little more breathing room. America doesn’t need to settle for less, we need an economy that has the capacity to generate more growth, more jobs, and more opportunity for all Americans. That’s why we’re going to keep doing everything we can to, one, unstick the bottlenecks that are keeping goods from getting to consumers, two, build better infrastructure so that we can get parts and goods to factory floors quicker and cheaper, three, bring more of that production back here to the United States to make our supply chain more secure.
President Joe Biden: (13:28)
Let’s make America. Let’s make what we’re selling in America made in America so we’re not at risk of foreign supply chains and shipping delays. And in doing so, get more Americans working in jobs with rising wages. And I want to be clear, I’m confident the Federal Reserve will act to achieve their dual goals of full employment at stable prices and make sure that price increases do not become entrenched over a long term with the independence that they need. But the best way that I as president and the Congress as a legislature can tackle high prices is by building a more productive economy with greater capacity to deliver for the American people, a growing economy where people have more opportunities, more small businesses opening, and I might add parenthetically, there’s 30% increase in the application for new small businesses, and goods get to market faster. Economy where we don’t just grow the economic pie to make sure people who bake the pie get a fair slice of it as well.
President Joe Biden: (14:42)
For too long, Republicans have thrown around terms like pro-growth and supply-side economics to drive an economic agenda that didn’t deliver enough growth and supplied more wealth to those who already were very well off. From day one, my economic agenda has been different. It’s been about taking a fundamentally new approach to our economy. One that sees the prosperity of working families as a solution, not the problem. There’s never been a time I can think of when the middle class and working class have done well that the wealthy haven’t done very well. Working families need to get a fighting chance. And by the way, the stock market, the last guy’s measure of everything, it’s about 20% higher than it was when my predecessor was there. It has hit record after record after record on my watch while making things more equitable for working class people.
President Joe Biden: (15:44)
At the same time, we’ve created jobs, reduced unemployment, raised wages. As I’ve always said, when working people do well, everybody benefits. I’m determined to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, because when we do, we get more growth, higher wages, more jobs, and over time, lower prices. But don’t take my word for it, just look at the results, historical results, results for working Americans. Economists call this increase to productive capacity of our economy. I call it building back better. That’s what we’re going to keep doing, we’re going to keep building. I thank you all very much. And I’ll get a chance to talk to all of you on Tuesday when I am down in Georgia talking about voting rights, but thank you.
Speaker 2: (16:43)
Mr. President, should Americans prepare to live with COVID forever, sir? Mr. President, should Americans prepare to live with COVID forever, sir? Mr. President, should Americans prepare to live with COVID forever? [crosstalk 00:16:57].
Speaker 3: (16:57)
Is COVID here to stay, sir? Should Americans be prepared that COVID is here to stay?
President Joe Biden: (17:02)
No, I don’t think COVID is here to stay. Having COVID in the environment, here and in the world, is probably here to stay. But COVID, as we’re dealing with it now, is not here to stay. The new normal doesn’t have to be. We have so many more tools we’re developing and continuing to develop that can contain COVID and other strains of COVID. So I don’t believe this is that… If you take a look, we’re very different today than we were a year ago, even though we still have problem.
President Joe Biden: (17:31)
But 90% of the schools are open now. Was 98, it’s down to 90, but is open now because we spent the time and the money in the Recovery Act to provide for the ability of schools to remain open. And what we’re doing now is we talked about how we’re dealing with testing. Well, we have been doing now, we’ve had 300 million tests per month so far, and that’s 11 million tests a day. In addition to that, we’re in the process of ordering 500,000 new tests. And so we’re going to be able to control this. The new normal is not going to be what it is now, it’s going to be better. Thank you very much. [crosstalk 00:18:11]
Speaker 3: (18:22)
Do you believe President Trump is illegally and criminally responsible for January 6th? [inaudible 00:18:22]