President Biden has spent months watching his poll numbers sink as the economy appeared to be losing altitude throughout the fall.
That narrative may have changed Friday.
Government data showed that the U.S. added 531,000 jobs in October — and hundreds of thousands more than initially reported in the two previous months — lending fresh ammunition to Biden’s argument that the economy is strengthening even as rising inflation, supply chain backlogs and labor shortages have forced the administration back on its heels.
The data could help stem the loss of faith among Americans in his handling of the economy, especially as the coronavirus pandemic eases: Nearly three in five people disapprove of his economic stewardship, a 14-percentage-point rise since April, an NBC News poll earlier this week showed.
“Yes, there’s a lot more to be done. We still have to tackle the costs that American families are facing,” Biden said at the White House on Friday. “But this recovery is faster, stronger, fairer and wider than almost anyone could have predicted.”
The jobs report shows the labor market improving across the board, with gains in nearly every sector and average hourly earnings rising another 11 cents, contributing to a 4.9 percent increase over the past 12 months.
The unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent.
It also illustrates how the economic impact of the surge in coronavirus cases caused by the Delta variant has ebbed.
The leisure and hospitality sector, which has been most vulnerable to Covid surges, added 164,000 jobs in October, and industry wages have risen more than 11 percent over the year.
The number of people unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic dropped by nearly a quarter from September to October — from 5 million to 3.8 million.
“Americans have good reason to be anxious about the economy as the Delta wave hurt growth and ignited higher inflation,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics who is frequently cited by the Biden administration. “But today’s report shows that as Delta winds down, the recovery is getting back into gear.”
Sparked by the favorable job report that showed the American economy gaining over 500,000 jobs in a one-month period, #ThankYouBrandon trended throughout the day.
It replaced #LetsGoBrandon, a favorite viral catchphrase of Donald Trump supporters.
Trump supporters started using the phrase after NASCAR driver Brandon Brown’s interview with NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast, who mistakenly interpreted the crowd’s cry “Fuck Joe Biden” as “Let’s Go Brandon.”
NASCAR is now distancing itself from the controversial chant.