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Biden takes victory lap as unemployment falls to lowest level since 1969

Yahoo Finance's Rick Newman breaks down the political implications of the January jobs report.

Video transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: The US economy added 517,000 jobs in January, eclipsing estimates of 188,000. The unemployment rate also fell to 3.4%, its lowest rate since 1969. President Biden wasting no time using the jobs numbers to tout his administration's economic success. Let's hear what he had to say.

JOE BIDEN: I would argue the Biden economic plan is working. For the past two years, we've heard a chorus of critics write off my economic plan. They said it's just not possible to grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. They said we can't bring back American manufacturing. They said we can't make things in America anymore, That somehow adding jobs was a bad thing. Well-- or that the only way to slow down inflation was to destroy jobs. Well, today's data makes crystal clear what I've always known in my gut. These critics and cynics are wrong.



DAVE BRIGGS: Yahoo Finance senior columnist Rick Newman now with us with Bidenomics. Rick, is it time to brag for President Biden?

RICK NEWMAN: He gets to brag. I'm not sure that these amazing results we saw on the job market today, I'm not sure these really are the result of any Biden economic policies. Companies just are holding on to all the workers they can get. They want to get everybody on the payroll they can. But look, presidents get to take credit for things when they go right under their watch. And that is happening with Biden.

You know, Dave, it puts me in mind of what Trump used to say every time there was some news on jobs. I covered every single one of the jobs reports under the Trump presidency, and he was always claiming greatest economy ever. Things have never been better. Strongest labor market in the history of the world. And, you know, Trump had a pretty good economy. For the most part, that hyperbole was not true.

Biden actually, he can actually claim some of these superlatives. I mean, you said in the intro 3.4% unemployment rate, lowest since 1969. The last time it was lower than 3.4% was in the 1950s. And that was the post-World War II job boom and the baby boom generation. So it makes me wonder, is it possible we're going to see it go down to 3.3% next year, which I guess would be the lowest going all the way back to the 1950s, something even Trump couldn't claim.

So we do have problems in the economy. But look, the recession that economists have been worrying about, there's just no way you can have a recession when you have this kind of job growth. So the recession that everybody's been talking about keeps on not arriving.

DAVE BRIGGS: Trump would find a way to brag about Trump steaks, though. So that doesn't mean much. President Biden, you say he gets to take credit. Will he get credit, though, when it comes to the polls?

RICK NEWMAN: He's not, actually. And that tells you something about the mood of consumers. Biden's approval ratings have not budged at all in about a year and a half. They're in the low 40% range. And we have-- this is the case, even though inflation has been coming down steadily. So we've got-- honestly, we just have a great, almost unprecedented job market. And inflation is coming down and gas prices, which bummed people out so much last year. Gas prices are down. And Biden's approval rating has not budged.

So I'm not sure what is going on there. This is a very peculiar economy. Economists just have honestly not figured out what's going on in the post-pandemic economy. That's why these forecasts are so off. But confidence remains pretty low. Consumers still seem to think we're headed for a recession. So I don't know if we're going to talk ourselves into a recession in 2023 or if we're just going to sort of gloomily limp through. But people should feel better than they seem to feel.

DAVE BRIGGS: Let's talk ourselves out of it. Senior columnist Rick Newman, good to see you. Enjoy the weekend. Catch Bidenomics--

RICK NEWMAN: See you, guys.

DAVE BRIGGS: --on Yahoo Finance.