President Joe Biden painted a rosy picture of the country's employment situation Friday, emphasizing a drop in unemployment while skipping over weak jobs creation numbers.
The U.S. economy added 210,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in November, well short of the 550,000 economists had forecast, the Labor Department reported. However, Biden chose to focus on the unemployment rate, which fell to 4.2% from 4.6%.
“Today we got the incredible news that our unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2%. And we’re looking at the sharpest one-year decline in unemployment ever,” Biden said in remarks delivered at the White House.
The confluence of the disappointing numbers and the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant weighed on stocks Friday. The data in the report were mostly collected before the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus emerged.
The President did acknowledge reasons for pessimism despite his mostly optimistic tone.
"Families are anxious. Anxious about Covid, anxious about the cost of living and the economy more broadly, they’re still uncertain. I want you to know that I hear you. It’s not enough to know that we’re making progress. You need to see it and feel it in your own lives and around your kitchen table and in your checkbooks," Biden said.
Biden also noted that initial jobs numbers are often upgraded higher. For example both October and September estimates were increased by 82,000 in Friday's release.
Sectors showing the biggest growth included professional and business services (90,000), transportation and warehousing (50,000) and construction (31,000). Retail saw a surprising decline, despite the start of the holiday season the segment saw payrolls decline 20,000.
The government also added 10,000 jobs in the month.