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White House sees stronger than expected jobs report following string of promising economic data

By MJ Lee, CNN White House correspondent

The Biden White House had hoped to see continued moderation in US jobs growth in the November jobs report to bolster what it sees as growing evidence that inflation is starting to slow — but newly released data Friday morning defied the Federal Reserve’s aggressive efforts to cool down the economy.

The latest employment report comes after a string of promising economic data over the last week that appeared to show a resilient economy and moderating prices. Friday’s news that the US economy added 263,000 jobs in November — with the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.7% — came in well above economists’ expectations.

White House officials have viewed several key economic reports released in recent days as signs that the US economy is in the process of making an important transition, as taming inflation still remains a top domestic concern for President Joe Biden. Leading up to Friday, officials were anticipating the US economy to have added in the ballpark of 200,000 new jobs last month, continuing the recent trend of a slowdown in the labor market.

On Thursday, the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, a key measure of consumer prices, rose 6% in October compared to the previous year — down from the 6.3% annual increase reported for September. The reading is a critical indicator for gauging inflation and one that the Federal Reserve watches closely.

Meanwhile, the US economy also grew much faster than expected in the third quarter of 2022, according to the latest gross domestic product report, at an annualized rate of 2.9% — a sign of resilience for the US economy. That figure marked a revision from the initial government reading in October which had showed 2.6% in economic activity.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell — while saying that the economy still has a “long way to go” — indicated this week that the central bank could pull back on its pace of aggressive rate hikes as soon as December. Those comments were welcome news for investors and prompted the stock market to surge.

And one other critical development that has thrilled the White House in recent weeks: falling gas prices. As of Thursday, prices at the pump in the US had fallen below levels that existed before Russia invaded Ukraine, with a gallon of gas costing an average of $3.47 nationally, according to AAA.

All of those data points reinforce the idea, one White House official told CNN before the release of Friday’s jobs report, “that the economy is strong, the recovery is durable and the transition that we would hope to see is happening.”

“Of course, there can be setbacks as this is a very interconnected global economy, but we are coming from a position of strength,” the official added.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Friday.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Maegan Vazquez and Alicia Wallace contributed to this report.

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