Listen to this article here
The pace of U.S. job growth unexpectedly came in well above forecasts in October, in a sign that the U.S. labor market remains tight despite the Federal Reserve’s recent bid to loosen it.
America — the world’s largest economy — added 261,000 jobs during the month, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), down from an upwardly revised level of 315,000 in September and above economists’ expectations of 200,000.
To add more context to the report, The Black Wall Street Times spoke to Jared Bernstein, White House Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser.
“This is yet another report in a series of positive employment reports ever since President Biden got here,” Bernstein says.
“We’ve been adding jobs every month, over 10 million jobs since he took office. In October, we saw virtually every major industry create employment — healthcare, professional services, construction, one particular area we noticed gains is in manufacturing.”
The BLS said there were “notable” rises in employment in the healthcare industry, which added 53,000 jobs, as well as in professional services and manufacturing. These were partially offset by a downturn in warehousing and storage positions.
Bernstein elaborated, “The President has long believed that’s a key sector for American innovation, productivity, and for good high quality. Manufacturing was up 32,000 in October, and it’s up 738,000 since President Biden took office, a boom in the sector faster than it has seen since the 1950s.”
The report detailed for Black men, unemployment fell to 5.3% from 5.8% a month earlier on a seasonally adjusted basis. White unemployment rose to 3.2% overall up from 3.1% a month earlier. When asked how to close the unemployment gap between Black and white workers, Bernstein stated though the gap persists, their research has found Black and Hispanic worker wage growth is now surpassing white workers and also the decline in unemployment rates was faster than that of white workers too.
Nevertheless, Bernstein states sustained momentum is what will keep the economy afloat. He said in part, “maintain the economic gains we’ve seen while easing price pressures evident in today’s economy. That’s going to be particularly positive for communities of color.”
“I think the concerns about inflation and the economy are legitimate, but if you think you’re describing the American economy by only citing inflation, you’re dead wrong,” says Bernstein. “We have a really strong job market that’s delivering disproportionate gains to communities of color and if you look at inflation globally, it’s elevated everywhere. It’s higher in Europe than it is here.”
With less than two months before the new year, Bernstein states next year’s “job market has some real momentum. It’s definitely the case with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates pretty aggressively, 261,000 jobs in October is a solid number. If you go back to last October, that number was over 600,000; what that means is that we’re settling into more steady more stable growth.” He affirmed, “The President himself said a few months ago that is the prescription for maintaining the gains in the job market in 2023 while helping to ease inflationary pressures.”
Jared Bernstein says the difference is clear
Citing a new bill, part of Biden’s Build Back Better plan, Bernstein says his side is the only one providing any answers as political campaigns reach a fever pitch across the nation. “The Inflation Reduction Act lowers prices for healthcare, prescription drugs, insulin, premiums, and clean energy. Republicans have said explicitly that their first priority is to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act which means higher medical costs, higher health insurance costs, higher prescription costs. We think that’s exactly the wrong way to go if we want to have a 2023 with a job market that reaches working families throughout the nation.”
He continued, “But more importantly, in a political season, you have to consider what kind of policies people are proposing. This President has worked hard to lower prices at the pump, he’s overseen the release of oil from our strategic reserves, which has made a real difference in getting folks some breathing room. He intends to keep pushing on that.”
“I think a question people need to ask, ‘what is the other side’s plan for maintaining this job market while bringing down inflationary pressures?’ You’ve seen our plan, you’ve seen it in action. I think this is an important compare and contrast moment.”
What about student loan debt?
After a series of court victories in October, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, however, Bernstein reaffirmed borrowers can continue to apply for studentaid.gov.
“We encourage eligible borrowers to join the tens of millions of Americans who have already applied there.” Bernstein confirmed, “The court order doesn’t reverse the ability of this measure to proceed. It just prevents debt from being discharged until the courts have made a decision.”