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Biden responds to the May jobs report: ‘Our plan is working’

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the May jobs report after U.S. employers boosted hiring amid the easing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, U.S., June 4, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden responded to the May jobs report on Friday, saying the steady growth in jobs and the decline in unemployment is evidence his economic plan is working.

“None of this success is an accident,” said Biden, who spoke in Rehoboth Beach, Del. “It isn’t luck. It’s due in no small part to the cooperation of the American people,” who have worn masks and gotten vaccinated for Covid-19.

“And it’s due in no small part to the bold action we took with the American Rescue Plan,” said Biden, referring to the massive Covid relief bill Democrats passed in March.

“This is progress that’s pulling our economy out of the worst crisis in the last 100 years,” Biden said.

Nonfarm payrolls added a solid 559,000 jobs in May, the Labor Department reported. But the number fell short of the 671,000 jobs that economists surveyed by Dow Jones had anticipated.

The unemployment rate fell to 5.8% from 6.1%, which was better than the estimate of 5.9%. An alternative measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons also edged lower, to 10.2%.

“Covid cases are down. Covid deaths are down. Unemployment filings are down. Hunger is down, and vaccinations are up,” said Biden. “Jobs are up. Wages are up. Manufacturing is up. Growth is up. People gaining health care coverage is up. Small business confidence is up. America is finally on the move again.”

Despite the gains, the U.S. is still about 7 million jobs shy of where it was pre-pandemic.

As Biden prepares to meet with G-7 member nations next week in England, he noted that “no other major economy in the world is growing as fast as ours. No other major economy is gaining jobs as quickly as ours.”

One notable part of the report was an acceleration in wage gains, which rose 2% year over year from being up just 0.4% in April.

Economists had largely been dismissive of average hourly earnings numbers for much of the post-pandemic period due to compositional factors where the bulk of hires came from higher-earning positions. With the return of more hospitality workers, the numbers are more relevant and now indicative of rising wage pressures.

The May job report is the first full measure of the labor market since the shock of April’s numbers. Last month’s revised figure of 278,000 jobs added fell far short of economists’ initial expectations of 1 million new jobs.

— CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

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