Here’s how things have changed in the U.S. so far under President Joe Biden, who announced on April 25 that he is officially running for reelection:
- The economy added 12.6 million jobs under Biden, putting the total 3.2 million higher than before the pandemic.
- The unemployment rate dropped back to 3.5%; unfilled job openings surged, with nearly 1.7 for every unemployed job seeker.
- Inflation roared back to the highest level in over 40 years, then slowed markedly. In all, consumer prices are up nearly 15%. Gasoline is up 54%.
- Weekly earnings rose briskly, by 11.3%. But after adjusting for inflation, “real” weekly earnings went down 3.6%.
- People apprehended for entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico has increased by 342%.
- Domestic crude oil production has increased 5.7%, and crude oil imports are up almost 6.7%.
- The economy grew at 2.1% last year, despite high inflation and concerns about a possible recession.
- The population without health insurance dropped by 1.6 percentage points.
- The number of people receiving federal food assistance has increased by about 1.2%.
- Despite a decline in 2022, the number of murders in 70 large U.S. cities has now gone up by 1.6%.
- The stock markets have underperformed. The S&P 500-stock index is up nearly 7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up almost 8%, while the NASDAQ composite index is down 10.2%.
As we have done for former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, we’ve included the latest statistics from the most authoritative sources to provide a sense of how the country is performing. These statistics may or may not reflect the president’s policies. We make no attempt to render any judgments on how much blame or credit a president deserves. Opinions will vary on that.
Our next Biden’s Numbers article will appear in July.
Jobs and Unemployment
The number of people with jobs has increased dramatically since Biden took office, far surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
Employment — The U.S. economy added 12,600,000 jobs between Biden’s inauguration and March, the latest month for which data are available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The March figure is 3,198,000 higher than the February 2020 peak of employment before COVID-19 forced massive shutdowns and layoffs.
One major category of jobs is still lagging, however. Government employment is still 314,000 jobs short of the pre-pandemic peak. That includes 130,000 fewer public school teachers and other local education workers.
Unemployment — The unemployment rate fell from 6.3% at the time Biden took office to 3.5% in March — a decline of 2.8 percentage points. The current rate is exactly where it was in the months just before the pandemic.
That’s uncommonly low. Since 1948, when BLS began keeping records, the jobless rate has been at or below 3.5% for only 61 months — including five months during Biden’s time and three months during the Trump years, just before the pandemic. Previously, the rate hadn’t been so low since the 1960s.
Job Openings — The number of unfilled job openings soared, reaching a record of over 12 million in March of last year, but then declined after the Federal Reserve began a steep series of interest rate increases aimed at cooling the economy to bring down price inflation.
The number of unfilled jobs has slipped down to just 9.9 million as of the last business day of February, the most recent month on record. That’s still an increase of over 2.8 million openings — or 38.4% — during Biden’s time.
In February, there was an average of nearly 1.7 jobs for every unemployed job seeker. When Biden took office, there were fewer jobs than unemployed job seekers.
The number of job openings in March is set to be released May 2.
Labor Force Participation — One reason many job openings go unfilled is that millions of Americans left the workforce during the pandemic and haven’t returned. The labor force participation rate (the percentage of the total population over age 16 that is either employed or actively seeking work) has slowly recovered during Biden’s time, from 61.3% in January 2021 to 62.6% in March.
That still leaves the rate well short of the pre-pandemic level of 63.3% for February 2020.
The rate peaked at 67.3% more than two decades ago, during the first four months of 2000. Labor Department economists project that the rate will trend down to 60.1% in 2031, “primarily because of an aging population.”
Manufacturing Jobs — During the presidential campaign, Biden promised he had a plan to create a million new manufacturing jobs — and whether it’s his doing or not, the number is rising briskly.
As of March, the U.S. added 787,000 manufacturing jobs during Biden’s time, a 6.5% increase in the space of 26 months, according to BLS. Furthermore, the March total is 198,000 or 1.5% above the number of manufacturing jobs in February 2020, before the pandemic forced plant closures and layoffs.
During Trump’s four years, the economy lost 182,000 manufacturing jobs, or 1.4%, largely due to the pandemic.
Wages and Inflation
CPI — Inflation came roaring back under Biden but has slowed dramatically in recent months.
Overall, during his first 26 months in office the Consumer Price Index rose 14.9%.
It was for a time the worst inflation in decades. The 12 months ending last June saw a 9.1% increase in the CPI (before seasonal adjustment), which the Bureau of Labor Statistics said was the biggest such increase since the 12 months ending in November 1981.
But now inflation is trending down. The CPI rose 5.0% in the most recent 12 months, 1.8% in the most recent six months and only 0.1% in March.
Gasoline Prices — The price of gasoline has gyrated wildly under Biden.
During the first year and a half of his administration, the national average price of regular gasoline at the pump soared to a record high of just over $5 per gallon (in the week ending last June 13). The rise was propelled first by motorists resuming travel and the commerce surging back after pandemic lockdowns, and then by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, which disrupted oil markets as the West attempted to punish Russia, the world’s third-largest oil producer.
Since then, the price drifted down to a low of $3.09 the week ending Dec. 26, and now has gone up again to $3.66 the week ending April 24, the most recent on record.
That’s $1.28 higher than in the week before Biden took office, an increase of 54%.
Wages — Wages also have gone up under Biden, but not as fast as prices.
Average weekly earnings for rank-and-file workers went up 11.3% during Biden’s first 26 months in office, according to monthly figures compiled by the BLS. Those production and nonsupervisory workers make up 81% of all employees in the private sector.
But inflation ate up all that gain and more. “Real” weekly earnings, which are adjusted for inflation and measured in dollars valued at their average level in 1982-84, actually declined 3.6% since Biden took office.
That’s despite a recent upturn as inflation has moderated. Since June of last year, real earnings have gone up 1.1%.
Despite two straight quarters of contraction at the beginning of 2022 and fears of a recession, the U.S. economy expanded for the full year in 2022 and continued to grow in the first quarter of 2023.
In a March 30 release, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that real GDP increased in the third quarter at an annualized rate of 3.2% and in the fourth quarter at a rate of 2.6%.
The growth continued in the first quarter of 2023, but at a slower pace. In its first estimate issued April 27, the BEA said the economy increased at an annual rate of 1.1% in the first quarter.
Still, concerns about a recession remain.
“While US GDP growth defied expectations in late 2022 and early 2023 data has shown unexpected strength, we continue to forecast that GDP growth to contract for three consecutive quarters starting in Q2 2023,” the Conference Board said in an April 12 report on its U.S. recession probability model, citing “the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and tightening monetary policy.”
Under Biden, corporate profits continued to set new records — although recent quarters haven’t been as strong.
After-tax corporate profits increased for the seventh consecutive year in 2022, reaching a new high of $2.87 trillion, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The record, though, came despite a decline in growth in the last two quarters of the year.
During the third quarter of 2022, corporate profits were estimated at an annual rate of nearly $2.9 trillion — down slightly from the $3 trillion record set in the previous quarter, according to the BEA. That slide continued in the fourth quarter, when profits were running at a yearly rate of $2.7 trillion.
Even with the recent decline in growth, corporate profits were 36% higher than the full-year figure for 2020, the year before Biden took office, as estimated by the BEA. (See line 45.)
Consumer confidence in the economy remains stubbornly low, even falling a bit since our last report.
The University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers reported that its preliminary monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment for April was 63.5. That’s down slightly from our last report – despite a slight easing recently in consumer prices — and 15.5 points lower than it was when Biden took office in January 2021.
“While consumers have noted the easing of inflation among durable goods and cars, they still expect high inflation to persist, at least in the short run,” Joanne Hsu, director of the Surveys of Consumers, said. “On net, consumers did not perceive material changes in the economic environment in April.”
Since Biden took office, the S&P 500 stock index is up about 6.8% as of the close of the market on April 26.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is made up of 30 large corporations, hasn’t done much better, increasing 7.7%.
The latest figures from the National Health Interview Survey show that 8.7% of the population was uninsured in the third quarter of 2022 at the time they were interviewed. That compares with 10.3% of the population that was uninsured in the fourth quarter of 2020, before Biden took office.
That decrease of 1.6 percentage points is similar to the decrease we noted in our last report comparing all of 2020 to the first six months of 2022. Over that time frame, the number of people without health insurance declined by 4.2 million.
The NHIS is a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the data collection is performed by the Census Bureau in face-to-face interviews.
It’s possible the number, and percentage, of uninsured Americans will start to go up, now that some Medicaid provisions enacted during the coronavirus pandemic are being phased out.
As the Kaiser Family Foundation explains, in March 2020, a pandemic relief law increased the federal Medicaid funding sent to states and required states to keep Medicaid recipients continuously enrolled while the COVID-19 public health emergency was in effect. The Medicaid program is known for “churn,” meaning people lose coverage and reenroll often. This could be due to fluctuations in income that change eligibility or inability to comply with renewal requirements and checks on eligibility.
This continuous enrollment provision was one reason Medicaid enrollment has grown over the last few years, reaching nearly 95 million at the end of March. But this requirement ended on March 31, due to another law Congress passed late last year, and the enhanced federal funding during the pandemic will slowly phase out through the end of this year. KFF estimates that between 5.3 million and 14.2 million people will be disenrolled during this time. The Department of Health and Human Services says the number could be as high as 15 million, 6.8 million of whom would still be eligible for Medicaid.
Some who lose Medicaid coverage could be eligible for subsidized plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges or other insurance, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services required states to come up with plans on how they might mitigate loss of insurance during this so-called “unwinding” period. But KFF says the change in policy could lead to an increase in the number of people who lack health insurance.
The number of apprehensions of people trying to enter the U.S. illegally at the southwest border remains historically high, but since our last report in January, the situation has changed markedly. In part due to seasonal trends and policies implemented by the Biden administration, the number of apprehensions significantly declined in January and February — to numbers not seen since shortly after Biden took office.
On March 24, Biden boasted that “the number of migrants arriving on our southern border has dropped precipitously.”
The number of apprehensions rose in March, but still remained well below the number from March 2022. However, an immigration expert cautioned the U.S. may be seeing the “calm before the storm” should the Biden administration end Title 42, a public health law the Trump administration invoked early in the pandemic that allows border officials to immediately return many of those caught trying to enter the country illegally.
Looking at the entirety of Biden’s time in office, and to even out the seasonal changes in border crossings, we compare the most recent 12 months on record with the year prior to him taking office. And for the past 12 months ending in March, the latest figures available, apprehensions totaled 2,246,798, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s 342% higher than during Trump’s last year in office.
Apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol hit 221,710 in December, the second highest monthly total on record. But in January, that number dropped nearly 42% to 128,936. And it remained about the same in February, at 130,024. (Those figures were 13% and 18% lower than the same months in 2022.) The number rose in March to 162,317, though that’s 23% below the level in March 2022.
According to Ariel G. Ruiz Soto, an associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, part of the drop was likely due to seasonal factors. January tends to be a slow month for illegal immigration, because of the holiday season across Latin America.
But Biden administration policies also played a role, he said. In early January, Biden unveiled several border enforcement initiatives that included expanding the “parole” process for Venezuelans to Nicaraguans, Haitians and Cubans, allowing applicants a two-year work permit if they have a sponsor in the U.S. and they pass a background check.
At the same time, the administration expanded Title 42 to include Nicaragua, Cuba and Haiti, meaning people from those countries caught illegally crossing into the U.S. could be immediately expelled.
Those changes contributed to the declining number of apprehensions at the border to a more manageable level in January and February, Ruiz Soto said. But that may change dramatically if the Biden administration follows through with its plan to end Title 42 on May 11, when the policy is set to expire, he said.
“That could incentivize increased migration in April,” Ruiz Soto said, and could lead to a “significant surge” in May. If so, he said, the decline in apprehensions in January and February could prove to have been just a temporary lull.
In anticipation of the end of Title 42, the Biden administration has been increasing expedited removals under Title 8, which stipulates that someone caught trying to cross illegally is barred from legal entry for five years. Those caught attempting to cross illegally multiple times can be charged criminally.
In addition, the administration is also pursuing a rule that would mean those attempting to cross into the U.S. illegally would have a “presumption of asylum ineligibility” in the U.S. if they have failed to seek asylum in another country on their travels to the U.S.
Even with the lower numbers in January and February, the number of apprehensions remains historically very high under Biden. Part of that is due to the same people making multiple attempts to cross the border, what is known as the recidivism rate. Title 42 carries no consequences for Mexicans immediately turned around at the border, Ruiz Soto said, and so many of them try again repeatedly.
In addition, he said, there are some “push factors” encouraging migration by Mexicans. One factor is an increase in drug and cartel activity in Mexico, Ruiz Soto said. In addition, he said, “Mexico has really struggled to recover from the pandemic.”
The number of people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, increased again since our last update.
As of January, nearly 42.7 million people were receiving food assistance, the highest monthly enrollment since Biden has been in office. That figure is up 344,515 people from October, and it’s an increase of about 1.2%, or 504,274 people, from January 2021, when Biden became president. The figures come from Department of Agriculture data published this month.
Under Biden, SNAP enrollment was as low as 40.8 million in August and September 2021. Trump’s lowest month was February 2020, when the program had 36.9 million participants.
The international trade deficit has gone up under Biden.
Figures published this month by the Bureau of Economic Analysis show the U.S. imported about $909.8 billion more in goods and services than it exported over the last 12 months through February. That’s an increase of nearly $256 billion, or roughly 39%, compared with 2020.
Through the first two months of 2023, however, the trade gap in goods and services decreased $35.5 billion, or 20.3%, from the same period in 2022, the BEA said. The $945.3 billion trade deficit in 2022 was the largest on record going back to 1960.
Crude Oil Production and Imports
U.S. crude oil production averaged roughly 11.97 million barrels per day during Biden’s most recent 12 months in office (through January), according to Energy Information Administration data released in March. That was 5.7% higher than the average daily amount of crude oil produced in 2020.
Crude oil production averaged 11.88 million barrels per day throughout 2022, the EIA said. That’s the highest annual average since 2019. According to its Short-Term Energy Outlook published in April, the EIA expects crude oil production to increase to a record 12.54 million barrels per day in 2023.
Meanwhile, imports of crude oil averaged 6.27 million barrels per day in Biden’s last 12 months. That’s up nearly 6.7% from average daily imports in 2020.
Last year, there were about 4.96 billion metric tons of emissions from the consumption of coal, natural gas and various petroleum products, according to the EIA. That total is 1.2% more than in 2021 and 8.4% above 2020.
The EIA currently forecasts that the U.S. will have 4.79 billion metric tons of energy-related emissions in 2023. That would be a decline of 3.4% from 2022 and almost 7% below the 5.15 billion metric tons emitted pre-pandemic in 2019.
Debt and Deficits
Debt — Since our last quarterly update, the public debt, which excludes money the government owes itself, has changed only slightly. It increased $9.1 billion to over $24.6 trillion, as of April 24, bringing the total increase under Biden to $2.97 trillion. That’s 13.7% higher than it was when Biden took office — unchanged from our last report.
Deficits — So far, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the budget deficit for fiscal year 2023 is ahead of where it was at this point in fiscal 2022, when the Treasury Department said the deficit for the full fiscal cycle approached $1.38 trillion.
Through the first six months of the current fiscal year (October to March), the deficit was $1.1 trillion, or “$430 billion more than the shortfall recorded during the same period last year,” the CBO said in its most recent Monthly Budget Review.
In February, the CBO projected that the FY 2023 deficit would increase slightly to $1.41 trillion. That’s $426 billion more than it projected in May 2022, CBO said.
Gun purchases appeared to decline again during the first quarter of 2023, according to numbers from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group.
The NSSF estimates gun sales by tracking the number of background checks for firearm sales based on the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System, or NICS. The NSSF-adjusted figures exclude background checks unrelated to sales, such as those required for concealed-carry permits. We rely on these figures because the federal government doesn’t collect data on gun sales.
The NSSF-adjusted NICS total for background checks during the first three months of 2023 was about 4.17 million, the group reported. That’s down more than 1% from 4.21 million in the first quarter of 2022 and almost 24% lower than the first quarter of 2021.
The first quarter figure for 2023 is about 26% lower than the almost 5.63 million during Trump’s last quarter in 2020, which was a record year for background checks for firearm sales.
The small increase reflects a decline in murders last year (down 5.1%) after two straight years of increases — a 33.4% jump from 2019 to 2020, before Biden took office (based on statistics from 67 large cities) and a much smaller 6.2% increase from 2020 to 2021, Biden’s first year in office (based on 70 large cities).
Despite last year’s decrease, the number of murders — 9,138 in 2022 — is not back down to the pre-pandemic 2019 level, which totaled 6,406, though the latter figure is based on three fewer law enforcement agencies.
AH Datalytics, an independent criminal justice data analysis group, has found murders are continuing to go down in 2023. Its work, based on publicly available information from 73 large law enforcement agencies nationwide, shows a 10.2% decline in murders as of April 26, compared with the same period last year — with more than half of the agencies’ figures updated as of this month.
From 2020 to 2022, the Major Cities Chiefs Association also found a 7.5% increase in the number of rapes, a 1.8% rise in robberies and a 14.1% increase in aggravated assaults.
We won’t have nationwide crime figures from the FBI for 2022 until this fall. As we’ve reported in our last two Biden’s Numbers updates, the FBI estimated that “violent and property crime remained consistent between 2020 and 2021.”
There have been several mass murders in the country in the last few years, including the May 2022 killings of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and 10 people in a racially motivated attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and more recently, the killing of three children and three adults at a school in Nashville in March. In response to these mass shootings, Biden has repeatedly called for a ban on semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines.
The Gun Violence Archive determined there were 36 mass murders in 2022, compared with 28 in 2021, 21 in 2020 and 31 in 2019. The group defines “mass murder” as a single incident in which at least four people were killed, not including the shooter.
Another gun violence database created by Mother Jones provides a count of “mass shootings,” defined as three or more victims in a shooting in a public place. Unlike in the Gun Violence Archives database, incidents in private homes or stemming from gang activity or robberies are not included. Mother Jones found 12 mass shootings in 2022, six in 2021, two in 2020 and 10 in 2019.
The FBI maintains statistics on what it calls “active shooter” incidents, in which “one or more individuals” is “actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” There were 50 active shooter incidents in 2022, 61 in 2021, 40 in 2020 and 28 in 2019.
Supreme Court — Biden’s Supreme Court nominees still stand at one: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was confirmed on April 7, 2022, and replaced retired Justice Stephen G. Breyer, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. Trump had won confirmation for two — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — at the same point during his term.
District Court — Biden has racked up 87 District Court confirmations, while Trump had 58 nominees confirmed at the same time during his presidency.
As of April 19, there were 78 federal court vacancies, with 36 nominees pending.
Home Prices & Homeownership
Home prices — The Fed’s attempts to slow inflation by repeatedly raising interest rates put the brakes on home prices last year. But the median price of existing, single-family homes has started to climb again.
The median price of an existing, single-family home sold in March was $380,000, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s down from a year ago ($385,400), but it’s also the second consecutive month that home prices had gone up after a seven-month slide, NAR data show.
“While prices have dropped from where they were at their peak this time last year, they are still above 2021 prices in many markets,” Lindsay McLean, the CEO of HomeLister told gobankingrates.com. “Mortgage rates have stabilized a bit and offer activity seems to be resuming, as buyers are slowly coming back to the table.”
The median price of an existing, single-family home reached a high of $420,900 in June, according to the NAR. But, as mortgage rates continued to climb, prices tumbled for seven consecutive months, dropping to $365,400 in January.
Despite the swing in prices, the March median price was 23.4% higher than it had been in January 2021, when Biden took office. Annual home prices have been rising since 2012, in large part because of a high demand and relatively low inventory, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
Homeownership — Homeownership rates have remained virtually unchanged under Biden.
The homeownership rate, which the Census Bureau measures as the percentage of “occupied housing units that are owner-occupied,” was 65.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022 — similar to the 65.8% rate during Trump’s last quarter in office. (Usual word of caution: The bureau warns against making comparisons with the fourth quarter of 2020, because of pandemic-related restrictions on in-person data collection.)
The rate peaked under Trump in the second quarter of 2020 at 67.9%. The highest homeownership rate on record was 69.2% in 2004, when George W. Bush was president.
Biden remains far from fulfilling his ambitious campaign goal of accepting up to 125,000 refugees a year.
As president, Biden set the cap on refugee admissions for fiscal year 2023 at 125,000 – just as he did in fiscal year 2022. To achieve that goal, the administration would have to admit an average of 10,417 refugees per month.
However, in fiscal year 2022, the administration accepted only 25,465 refugees, or 2,122 per month, according to State Department data. In the first six months of fiscal year 2023, which began Oct. 1, the administration increased its monthly average, welcoming 18,429 refugees, or 3,072 per month. (See “Refugee Admissions Report” for monthly data from 2000 through 2023.)
Overall, the U.S. has admitted 53,904 refugees in Biden’s first full 26 months in office, or 2,073 refugees per month, the data show. That’s about 12% higher than the 1,845 monthly average during the four years under Trump, who significantly reduced the admission of refugees. (Technical point: For both presidents, our monthly averages include only full months in office, excluding the month of January 2017 and January 2021, when administrations overlapped.)
In its report to Congress for fiscal year 2023, the State Department said “we are beginning to make progress towards fulfilling President Biden’s ambitious admissions target.” It is true that the average monthly refugee admissions have increased under Biden. The 3,072 monthly average in the first six months of fiscal year 2023 is the highest it has been for the same six-month period since fiscal year 2017, which includes months under both Trump and his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
But if it maintains its current pace, the administration would accept 36,864 refugees in fiscal year 2023 — which is much higher than last fiscal year, but far short of Biden’s campaign goal of 125,000.
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