(The Center Square) — President Joe Biden touted Americans’ pay rises over the weekend, but a closer look shows there’s more to the story.
“More Americans have health insurance than ever in history,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “Fewer families are facing foreclosure today than before the pandemic. And wages are rising faster than prices.
While wages have risen during Biden’s presidency, soaring inflation has eroded and has often exceeded any gains for workers since Biden took office.
“Only a few months of Biden’s presidency have [we] seen wages and incomes rise faster than prices,” said EJ Antoni, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. “Over the past two years, the situation for the American people has obviously deteriorated, with the average family losing $6,000 in purchasing power because prices have risen much faster than wages.”
Antoni argued that Biden was misrepresenting the data.
“[Biden] also said that “wages are higher now than they were seven months ago adjusted for inflation” – but real wages are LOWER than they were 8, 9 , 10, … months, and lower than when Biden took office (conveniently omitted),” Antoni said, adding that Biden “also omits real [average] weekly earnings, which have fallen even more than actual earnings [average] hourly gains, because companies have reduced working hours, cut full-time jobs [and] replace with part-time.
Federal employees have been confronted with this reality in recent weeks.
Biden issued an executive order in December giving a wide range of federal employees a 4.6% salary increase, 4.1% as a raise and 0.5% as an adjustment to the cost of the life.
This increase is much higher than the 2.7% increase from the same period last year, but neither has helped these workers keep pace with rising prices.
The 4.6% increase is well below the rise in consumer prices.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released new inflation data earlier this month that showed the headline consumer price index rose 6.5% in the previous 12 months.
This isn’t the first time Biden has given a particularly upbeat outlook on the economy. Biden suggested food prices were down in a recent tweet when they have actually skyrocketed since taking office.
“For the sixth month in a row, annual inflation is down,” Biden wrote on Twitter earlier this month. “It may be rising in economies around the world, but it’s falling here. And prices for gas, food and more follow.
But food prices actually rose again in December, as they have for the past 12 months.
BLS data shows the “food at home” index rose 0.2% in December and 11.8% over the past year. Out-of-home food increased 0.4% in December and 8.3% last year.
“The cereals and bakery products index rose 16.1% over the year. Other major food groups in grocery stores posted increases ranging from 7.7% (meat, poultry, fish and eggs) to 15.3% (dairy and related products),” the BLS said.
Like The Center Square before reportedHere are some seasonally-adjusted price changes for urban consumers for major food categories in December along with the annual numbers, according to BLS data:
- Prices for cereals and bakery products were unchanged in December, but rose 16.1% over the past year.
- Meat, poultry, fish and eggs rose 1% in December and 7.7% last year.
- Prices for dairy and related products fell 0.3% in December, but rose 15.3% over the past year.
- Fruit and vegetable prices fell 0.6% in December, but rose 8.4% over the past year.
- Prices for non-alcoholic beverages and beverage raw materials rose 0.1% in December and 12.4% last year.
- The BLS’s “other food at home” category saw an increase of 0.4% in December and 13.9% last year.