The president applauded the "extraordinary resilience and grit" of the American people.
"Our country is taking everything the COVID has thrown at us, and we’ve come back stronger," Biden said, adding that "America’s job machine is going stronger than ever, fueling a strong recovery and opportunity for hard-working women and men all across this great country."
"America is back to work," Biden said.
The Labor Department said Friday in its monthly payroll report that payrolls in January rose by 467,000 – easily topping the 150,000 jobs gained forecast by Refinitiv economists.
The unemployment rate, which is calculated based on a separate survey, ticked up slightly to 4%. That increase, however, is largely due to the labor force participation rate climbing to 62.2% — the highest level since the pandemic began in February 2020.
The unexpected gain comes after the Biden administration spent the week bracing for an ugly report that officials warned could show the economy actually lost jobs last month.
"This morning’s report caps off my first year as president, and over that period, our economy created 6.6 million jobs. 6.6 million jobs," he said. "You can’t remember another year when so many people went to work in this country — there’s a reason. It never happened."
The president said he is "proud" of the role his administration has played in the "economic recovery" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shifting to vaccinations against COVID, the president said vaccinations and boosters "have proven incredibly effective this past month" and touted his administration’s move to mail "tens of millions of at-home COVID tests" to American families and the therapeutics being developed, including antiviral pills.
COVID-19 cases across the nation, though, have eased in recent weeks, with the seven-day moving average falling to 596,860 — down 20% from the prior week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Job gains were broad-based, with the biggest increases in leisure and hospitality (151,000), professional and business services (86,000) and retail (61,000).
Economists expect job growth to climb even higher in coming months as the omicron variant recedes from public life.
Businesses are eager to onboard new employees and are raising wages in order to attract workers as they confront a labor shortage. There are roughly 10.9 million open jobs – a near record – while the pace of layoffs has moderated. Friday's payroll report also painted a brighter employment picture in 2021, with major upward revisions to the jobs figure in December (510,000, up from the initially reported 199,000) and November (647,000, up from the initially reported 249,000).
Businesses are eager to onboard new employees and are raising wages in order to attract workers as they confront a labor shortage. There are roughly 10.9 million open jobs – a near-record – while the pace of layoffs has moderate. Friday's payroll report also painted a brighter employment picture in 2021, with major upward revisions to the jobs figure in December (510,000, up from the initially reported 199,000) and November (647,000, up from the initially reported 249,000).
And millions of workers are seeing the largest pay gains in years, as companies compete with one another for a limited number of employees: Wages climbed 5.7% in January from the previous year, nearly double the pre-pandemic average 3%.
Many of those gains have been eroded, however, by the hottest inflation in nearly four decades that has pushed the price of everyday necessities like gasoline, clothing and food significantly higher.
The rising prices have been bad news for President Biden, who has seen his approval rating plunge as inflation climbs higher. It has also forced the Federal Reserve to adopt a more aggressive policy trajectory in order to combat the raging inflation: Central bank policymakers have signaled they could begin raising interest rates as soon as March, once they conclude their massive bond-buying program. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has also not ruled out the possibility of a rate increase at every meeting for the remainder of the year.
"We have to continue to keep wages growing and we need even more high paying jobs, jobs you can raise a family on and have some breathing room," Biden said.
Addressing rising prices and inflation, Biden said: "I'm a capitalist, but capitalism without competition is not capitalism. It's exploitation."
"So I'm going to continue everything in my power to work with the Congress to make our capitalist system work better. Provide more competition and lower prices for American consumers," Biden said.
The president said that the government needs to "ease the burden on working families by making everyday things more affordable and accessible."
"Look, average people are getting clobbered by the cost of everything. Gas prices at the pump are up. We're working to bring them down, but they're up," Biden said. "Food prices are up. And we're going to bring them down as well."
The president said his administration is going to "work to bring down the prices that are way up" and continue "strengthening the supply chain to bring down the cost of all of these goods."
"The United States is once again in a position to not only compete with the rest of the world, but out-compete the rest of the world," Biden said. "We can keep coming together, invest in the backbone of American working class, the middle-class folks."
He added: "There's no limit on what we can achieve, so let's keep the wages rising and let's start lowering costs. Our businesses are the best in the world. Our workers are the best in the world."
"Give them half a chance to out-compete anyone, anywhere in the world," Biden said. "We can have a quality of life for working people that they deserve at the same time, and, by the way, the middle class, when it does well, when the working class does well, everybody does well."
"Every thing is better for the wealthy, the super wealthy and the slightly wealthy," Biden said. "Nobody gets hurt."
He added: "So let's face these challenges head on. Let's keep building a better America."
Meanwhile, economists said that Friday's report, and the resilience of the U.S. economy in the face of the virus, likely solidified the Fed's plans to raise rates next month – and opens the door to a larger, 50-basis rate hike.
"A better-than-expected jobs report only fuels the Fed’s fire to raise rates, and act quickly," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E*Trade. "While they’ve already signaled that the labor market is in a good place, there was potential for Omicron to derail that progress—and that just doesn’t seem to be the case. So with the market typically unwelcoming of news that could accelerate the pace of action from the Fed, we could see some volatility."