Our economic recovery has two key components: getting America back to work, and getting prices and supply chains back to normal. Simply put, it is about jobs and prices.
Today, we received further evidence that our jobs recovery is one of the strongest ever. The number of Americans filing for unemployment last week was the smallest since 1969. The four-week average is now near the average for my predecessor even before the pandemic hit. This follows last week’s news that the unemployment rate has dropped to 4.2%, the fastest year-to-date decline in unemployment on record. We’ve added nearly six million jobs this year – the most of any first year President in history. And the number of people receiving unemployment benefits – which was over 18 million when I took office — is now at about 2 million. It is the fastest movement of people from relying on government support to earning a weekly paycheck in history. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, and our successful vaccination program, Americans are back at work at a record-setting pace. And families have more money in their pockets: Americans on average have about $100 more in their pockets each month than they did last year, after accounting for inflation.
But even as we’ve built this incredible jobs and economic recovery, we have struggled – like virtually every other developed economy dealing with the pandemic – with rising prices and supply chain woes. I have taken strong, aggressive measures to combat these challenges –with a port action plan, the largest release from our strategic petroleum reserve ever, and actions to combat anti-competitive price gouging, including in industries that affect food prices. And, I am pleased that yesterday the House passed on a bipartisan basis the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which includes good first steps on the type of reform that will lower costs for American companies and consumers, and strengthen America’s global competitiveness.
Tomorrow, we will get a report on consumer prices that experts expect to be elevated again, driven in part by energy prices and used car prices. Fortunately, in the weeks since the data for tomorrow’s inflation report was collected, energy prices have dropped. The price of gas at the pump has already begun to fall nationally, and real pump prices in 20 states are now lower than the 20 year average. This week, natural gas prices are down more than 25% from their November average. In recent weeks, we are also beginning to see a decline in used car prices on the wholesale market which should translate into lower prices for Americans in the months ahead. The information being released tomorrow on energy in November does not reflect today’s reality, and it does not reflect the expected price decreases in the weeks and months ahead, such as in the auto market. We need to focus on concrete actions we can take to address elevated prices and to lower costs for American families – including by lowering prescription drug costs, health care costs, childcare costs and housing costs with my Build Back Better plan.