While eating an ice cream at a Baskin Robbins in Portland, Oregon, President Joe Biden was asked about the U.S. economy by a reporter to which Biden replied, “the economy is strong as hell.”
With an ice cream cone in hand, and in between bites, Biden said, “I’m not concerned about the strength of the dollar. I’m concerned about the rest of the world. Our economy is strong as hell.” He added, “Inflation is worldwide. It’s worse off than it is in the United States. So the problem is the lack of economic growth and sound policy in other countries not so much ours.”
His comments, while tone deaf because of the economic hardship being suffered by many Americans, were made worse with the recent release of the “U.S. Misery Index.”
Economists have used the most up-to-date data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) to understand and communicate the state of the country’s economic health to consumers. One of the ways economists do that is by using the “Misery Index” to give a snapshot of where the country is economically from the standpoint of “negative statistics.”
The Misery Index, which is found when you add the unemployment rate to the inflation rate, stands now at a staggering 11.7%. That number includes the 3.5% unemployment and the higher-than-expected 8.2% inflation.
The US Misery Index (inflation + unemployment) hit 12.7% in June…up, but still way lower than in the 70's & 80's when both inflation & unemployment were high. One may need to come up for the other to go down. (Sorry for the Monday misery tweet.) pic.twitter.com/vhcYYOEHF5
— Liz Young (@LizYoungStrat) August 1, 2022
Biden was in Oregon to stump for democratic candidates leading up to the midterm elections, but his comments came across as callous and showed that he does not understand the plight of the average American. In fact, according to a CNN poll, at the same time Biden lauded the strength of the American economy, 78% of Americans say the economy is “poor” or worse.
The economic climate of the country has caused some experts to question whether or not inflation will ever get back to the desired 2%. A recent Yahoo Finance article phrased it this way: “Over the coming year, there will undoubtedly be more pain before the US economy returns to a sense of normalcy. And even when it does, new challenges will emerge. I am crossing my fingers that the Fed will somehow thread the needle and orchestrate a soft landing. But if it fails, it won’t be because of personality flaws or professional incompetence. It will be because of the near impossibility of the task.”
Articles like this one seem to already be giving excuses for failure before the failure even happens. Hopefully, rather than resigning to prolonged inflation and economic turmoil, voters will go to the poll in November with the economy as their biggest concern.