Morning Sun

Biden’s challenge: Finding workers and goods

- By Josh Boak

President Joe Biden enters the midterm election year of 2022 determined to address what economists call a “supply” problem — there aren’t enough jobseekers or goods to meet the country’s needs.

This is also a political problem. The mismatch has obscured the strong growth and 3.9% unemployme­nt rate achieved during Biden’s first year, the kind of performanc­e that would typically help the president and congressio­nal Democrats woo voters in the midterms. It has left Biden trying to showcase his economic achievemen­ts while trying to parry Republican criticism that his policies have fueled inflation.

“This is the kind of recovery I promised and hoped for for the American people,” the president said in remarks Friday. “My focus is on keeping this recovery strong and durable, notwithsta­nding Republican obstructio­nism. Because, you know, I know that even as jobs and families’ incomes have recovered, families are still feeling the pinch of prices and costs.”

Pessimism has overtaken Americans’ views on the economy, even though the economy is objectivel­y better than it was in 2020 right before Biden took office. The index of consumer sentiment tracked by the University of Michigan is 12.5% lower than a year ago, despite people being vaccinated and 6.4 million jobs added over the past 12 months.

Shoppers are focused on shortages of cars, bath towels and even breakfast cereal. Employers can’t fill the 10.6 million jobs they’re advertisin­g, as Friday’s employment report showed a mere 199,000 jobs gained in December.

 ?? ALEX BRANDON — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? President Joe Biden speaks about the 2021 jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House on Friday in Washington.
ALEX BRANDON — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS President Joe Biden speaks about the 2021 jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House on Friday in Washington.

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