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STORY: Joe Biden took fresh shots at his likely 2024 rival Donald Trump in a Labor Day speech Monday in front of union workers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a key battleground state.
[U.S. President / Joe Biden]
“And, you know, it wasn't that long ago we were losing jobs in this country. In fact, the guy that held this job before me was just one of two presidents in history, he was... but here’s the important point, one of two presidents who left office with fewer jobs in America than when he got elected to office.”
U.S. unemployment fell after Trump took office as president in 2017, and the jobs market saw robust growth during much of his term.
But unemployment rose sharply toward the end of Trump's administration in the economic downturn of the global health crisis.
On Monday, Biden trumpeted his own record in contrast:
“Well, we're getting through this, one of the greatest job creation periods in American history. For real. That's a fact.”
Since January 2021, job growth has averaged 436,000 jobs per month and now the US is 4 million jobs above the pre-pandemic peak.
Biden also cast himself, as he often has in the past, as a champion of labor unions and the working class:
“When the last guy was here he looked at the world from Park Avenue. I look at it from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I look at it from Claymont, Delaware. Not a joke!”
“Let me say it loud and clear. Wall Street didn't build America. The middle class built American and unions built the middle class. That's a fact. That's not hyperbole. That's a fact. Unions built the middle class.”
Rebuilding crumbling infrastructure has been a part of Biden's pitch to voters, with a $1 trillion infrastructure law pumping money into projects built with union labor.
On Monday, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement that Biden was quote “the destroyer of American jobs and continues to fuel runaway inflation with reckless, big government spending” and that Trump had produced a quote “booming economic recovery” while in office.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll last month found that 60% of Americans, including one in three Democrats, disapproved of Biden's handling of inflation.
Though inflation has fallen to 3.3% from its 7% peak last summer, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last month that inflation quote “remains too high.”
The polls also showed that the economy, unemployment and jobs remained Americans' top concerns as the 2024 presidential race picks up steam.