Friday's Jobs Report Could Kick the Legs Out From Under Biden

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The economy was coming back under President Donald Trump.

But under Joe Biden, the economy has been hitting the rocks hard. Last month’s jobs report was so bad and so below the Biden’s team’s expectations that it was called the worst miss in the history of the report. They predicted one million new jobs; it turned out to be 266,000. The unemployment rate went up to 6.1%. Plus, the previous month’s gains were revised down.

The slow return to jobs, despite them being available, is believed to be due at least in part to the extension of unemployment benefits. It’s likely, also, because parents were unable to go back to work, since schools had not yet restarted in person in some areas — both issues which Biden had a hand in exacerbating or failing to cure. And both issues are likely still having an impact in this month.

May’s job numbers are being released on Friday, and given how bad the April numbers were, Politico is warning May might not show the growth that Biden needs to support his agenda.

Democrats have downplayed the concerns, maintaining that the path back to full employment was always going to be winding and stacked with challenges. And economists are predicting the report will show 630,000 jobs were created in May, a robust number. But while Biden has been polling strongly on his handling of the economy, a second straight month of slower-than-expected job creation could embolden critics of his multitrillion-dollar infrastructure spending plans and raise fears that the labor market is facing a long road back to normal.

There are indications that it may not be good.

Some early data signal that job creation may not be roaring back. The Real-Time Population Survey, a tool backed by the Dallas Fed that aims to track unemployment trends more quickly than the Labor Department, saw a slowdown in the labor-market recovery in May, with employment ticking down to 71.1 percent from 71.8 percent the month before.

The survey has largely predicted the trends that official government reports have found in recent months, showing a big jump in job creation in March — when 770,000 net jobs were added — and a flat employment rate in April.

And while initial applications for jobless benefits have been steadily falling each week, continued claims, or the number of unemployed people who refile to receive another round of aid, have been relatively steady at roughly the same level as in early April.

If Biden gets another weak month, that could spell big trouble for him after the April’s disastrous report and be indicative of longer term issues. “It’s the economy, stupid” is always the important maxim in the eyes of the voters — and if that takes a hit again, it’s going to start hitting Biden’s approval big time.