President Joe Biden heads to Philadelphia this Labor Day, targeting a key battleground state to champion worker-centric policies in anticipation of the 2024 election. After a visit to Florida to assess Hurricane Idalia’s impact and a stop in Delaware, Biden, a Democrat, is set to address an AFL-CIO union event in neighboring Pennsylvania. This state played a pivotal role in his 2020 victory over former President Donald Trump.
Biden proudly identifies as a pro-union president, and his administration has been actively promoting his economic agenda, dubbed ‘Bidenomics,’ to address public concerns about the economy, despite signs of decreasing inflation and low unemployment levels.
Republicans, however, argue that Democratic policies have contributed to rising prices, impacting Americans’ expenses for rent, groceries, and fuel during Biden’s tenure.
The Federal Reserve has increased rates by 5.25 percentage points since March 2022, with the 30-year mortgage rate now exceeding 7%. Nevertheless, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge has decreased to 3.3% from last summer’s peak of 7%. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has characterized this decline as a ‘welcome development,’ though he noted that inflation ‘remains too high,’ suggesting potential future interest rate hikes.
While U.S. job growth accelerated in August, the unemployment rate rose to 3.8%, and wage growth moderated, as reported by the Labor Department last week. The labor market is reacting to the central bank’s rate hikes.
The White House highlights a 3.5% increase in inflation-adjusted income since Biden took office in January 2021, benefiting lower-wage workers, and notes that the unemployment rate is near a 50-year low.
In an op-ed published before Labor Day in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Biden emphasized his administration’s proposal to extend overtime pay to approximately 3.6 million Americans and praised unions for their positive impact on the economy. He wrote, ‘Every American willing to work hard should be able to get a job, raise their family on a good paycheck, and keep their roots where they grew up. That’s why Bidenomics is anchored in what’s always worked best for our country: investing in America’s workers, the real heroes of our story.’
Economic concerns are poised to play a pivotal role in the 2024 presidential race. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last month revealed that the economy, unemployment, and jobs remain the top concerns for Americans. Sixty percent of respondents, including one-third of Democrats, expressed disapproval of Biden’s handling of inflation in the poll.
Pennsylvania, along with several other battleground states that often sway between Democratic and Republican support in presidential elections, will play a crucial role in determining the country’s leadership in the coming year.