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Prospective employers and job seekers interact during a job fair, on Sept. 22, 2021, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Prospective employers and job seekers interact during a job fair, on Sept. 22, 2021, in Los Angeles, Calif.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP file

Job growth is so strong, the GOP is literally at a loss for words

As job growth soars and unemployment drops, what do Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have to say about the data? Literally nothing.


Americans had plenty of reasons to celebrate the latest jobs report, which was released on Friday morning. February’s job growth was the best since last summer; the unemployment rate is back below 4 percent; and the economy has already created 1.16 million jobs so far in 2022, which is extraordinary.

“Today’s news is a welcome reminder,” President Joe Biden said on Friday, “that we’re coming back stronger as a country and as a people.”

Around the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement that read in part, “Today’s jobs report is further evidence of a record-breaking jobs recovery. Under the leadership of President Biden and Democratic Majorities in Congress over the last thirteen months, our nation has created 7.4 million jobs while slashing unemployment from 6.4 percent to 3.8 percent. These extraordinary gains, including the best job growth in manufacturing and trucking in nearly three decades, are powered in large part by our American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

The Democrats’ comments stood out in part because they were met with silence from Republican leaders.

It seemed possible leading GOP officials would argue that Democrats don’t deserve credit for the economic recovery. Or perhaps they’d argue that robust job growth was inevitable after the 2020 recession. Maybe they’d even try to say that Donald Trump was somehow responsible for creating economic conditions he had nothing to do with.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy instead ignored the economic news altogether: No press releases, no tweets, and no public comments. They literally found themselves at a loss for words.

As regular readers may recall, it was nearly a year ago when we saw the worst month for job growth since Biden’s inauguration: In April 2020, the economy created 269,000 jobs. Under normal circumstances, that would’ve constituted a great total, but with the country still climbing out of its pandemic-driven hole, the April 2020 report was a major disappointment.

Republicans wasted no time in pouncing on the data, blaming Democrats for the disappointment. McCarthy released this press statement soon after the data was released:

“Today’s disappointing jobs report confirms once again that President Biden’s tax-and-spend policies are bad for American workers, families, and small businesses.... Experts are calling this jobs report the ‘worst miss in 23 years’, and it was a direct result of President Biden’s counterproductive policies. So President Biden is not fixing a crisis, but creating new ones.”

In the days that followed, the House GOP leader continued to make a direct connection between the White House’s economic agenda and the U.S. job market. A week after April numbers were released, McCarthy again argued, “President Biden and Democrats will make excuses for this abysmal reality, but the truth is their own massive spending agenda created this problem.”

It wasn’t just McCarthy. The Republican National Committee connected Biden’s policies and job growth over and over and over again. McConnell’s Senate website blamed “persistent unemployment” on Democrats.

There was one important problem with this strategy: It was apparently based on the idea that the U.S. job market would continue to fall short for the indefinite future.

It did the opposite: The economy created over 6.7 million jobs in 2021, which was a record high. All told, we’re up to 7.9 million jobs since January 2021 — well above the combined total of Donald Trump’s first three years in office.

The political problem for Republicans is obvious: If a discouraging monthly jobs report is proof that the Democratic economic agenda is a failure, then several months’ worth of encouraging monthly jobs reports is necessarily evidence that the Democratic economic agenda is a success.

The more GOP leaders say Biden is directly responsible for the nation’s economic conditions, the easier it is for the Democratic White House to take credit when those conditions look great.

Postscript: It’s important to note for context that the Republican National Committee did issue a press statement on Friday morning acknowledging the existence of the latest monthly jobs report. It credited “Republican-led states” for the good news.