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Biden resents job growth

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has set an enviable record for the number of jobs, adding 10.3 million people during his tenure. But voters in Tuesday’s midterm elections are much more focused on inflation, which is hovering around a 40-year high.

The president is left to try to convince the public that job growth means better days are ahead, even as fears of a recession grow.

Presidents have long believed that voters would reward them for strong economic growth, but inflation has thrown a wrench into the likelihood that Democrats will retain control of the House and Senate.

Economic worries have increased as the Federal Reserve has repeatedly raised its key interest rates to reduce inflation and possibly increase unemployment. Mortgage costs have soared, while the S&P 500 stock index has fallen more than 20 percent this year.

Biden is asking voters to look beyond the current financial pain, saying what matters is the job growth he believes his policies are promoting. On Friday, the government said employers added 261,000 jobs in October as the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent.

About 740,000 manufacturing jobs have been added since the start of Biden’s presidency, a number the president says will continue to grow because of his funding for infrastructure projects, computer chip manufacturing and the transition to clean energy sources.

“America is rebuilding itself — it’s as simple as that,” Biden said in a speech Friday. “We also know that people are still struggling with inflation. That’s our No. 1 priority.”

But the president also warns that the Republican majority in Congress could make inflation worse by seeking to roll back his programs and treat federal debt payments as a bargaining chip rather than a duty to meet.

His problem is that the governing party usually faces skeptical voters in the US midterm elections, and inflation looms larger in the public mind than job growth.

“When you have a job, knowing that the job market is strong, at the same time you feel like every paycheck is worth less and less,” said sociologist Kristen Soltis Anderson.

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