President Joe Biden is set to travel to Philadelphia on Monday to commemorate Labor Day in Pennsylvania, a politically contested state where the White House hopes his emphasis on worker-friendly policies will bolster his chances for another victory in 2024.
After visiting Florida on Saturday to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia before heading to Delaware, the state where he has spent most of his life, Democrat Biden plans to speak at an AFL-CIO labor union event in Pennsylvania. It’s a state that played a crucial role in his victory over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Biden has positioned himself as a pro-union president, and in recent months, the White House has been promoting his economic policies under the banner of “Bidenomics” to an economy-conscious audience, despite concerns about rising inflation and low unemployment rates.
Republicans, however, argue that Democratic policies have contributed to the surge in prices, forcing Americans to pay more for rent, groceries, and gasoline during the Biden administration. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by 5.25 percentage points since March 2022, and the 30-year mortgage rate now stands above 7%.
Nonetheless, according to the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, inflation has decreased to 3.3% from its peak of 7% last summer. While this drop was viewed as a “positive development” by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at the end of last month, he also noted that inflation “remains too high,” and the Federal Reserve may need to further increase interest rates.
Employment growth in the United States rebounded in August, but the unemployment rate jumped to 3.8%, and wage increases moderated, according to data released by the Department of Labor last week. The labor market is slowing in response to the central bank’s rate hikes.
The White House points out that inflation-adjusted incomes have increased by 3.5% since Biden took office in January 2021, benefiting lower-wage workers, and the unemployment rate is near its lowest level in 50 years.
In an op-ed published before Labor Day in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Biden highlighted his administration’s proposal to expand overtime pay to around 3.6 million Americans and praised unions for their positive impact on the economy.
“Every hardworking American should be able to find a job, support their family with a decent wage, and stay rooted in the place they call home,” he wrote. “That’s why Bidenomics is built on what has always worked best for our country: investing in American workers, the true heroes of our history.”
Economic issues are likely to play a pivotal role in the 2024 presidential race. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last month showed that the economy, unemployment, and jobs remained top concerns for Americans. According to the poll, 60% of Americans, including one in three Democrats, disapproved of Biden’s handling of inflation.
Pennsylvania and other swing states that teeter between supporting Democrats and Republicans in presidential elections will help determine who leads the country in the coming years.