Biden touts rising wages, but misleads on the cost of inflation

Biden suggested food prices were falling in a recent tweet when they have actually soared since he took office.

Updated: January 18, 2023 - 6:18am

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President Joe Biden touted Americans' rising wages over the weekend, but a closer look shows there is 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 climbing faster than prices.”

While wages have increased during Biden’s presidency, soaring inflation has eroded and often surpassed any gains for workers since Biden took office.

“Only a few months of Biden’s presidency have [we] seen wages and earnings rise faster than prices,” said E.J. Antoni, an economist at the Heritage Foundation. “Over the last two years, the American people have become demonstrably worse off with the average family losing $6,000 in purchasing power because prices have risen so much faster than wages."

Antoni argued Biden misrepresents the data.

“[Biden] also said ‘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 ago, and lower than when Biden took office (conveniently omitted),” Antoni said, adding that Biden “also omits real [average] weekly earnings, which have declined even further than real [average] hourly earnings, because businesses have been reducing hours, cutting full-time jobs [and] replacing with part-time.”

Federal employees faced this reality firsthand in recent weeks.

Biden issued an executive order in December giving a wide range of federal employees a 4.6% pay increase, 4.1% as a raise and 0.5% as a cost-of-living adjustment.

That raise is much higher than the 2.7% increase from the same time last year, but neither have helped those workers keep pace with rising prices.

The 4.6% increase is far less than the rise in consumer prices.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new inflation data earlier this month that showed the overall consumer price index rose 6.5% in the previous 12 months.

This isn’t the first time Biden has given an especially rosy outlook on the economy. Biden suggested food prices were falling in a recent tweet when they have actually soared since he took office.

“For the sixth month in a row, yearly inflation is down,” Biden wrote on Twitter earlier this month. “It might be rising in economies around the world, but it's coming down here. And gas prices, food, and more are following.”

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% in the past year. Food away from home rose 0.4% in December and 8.3% in the last year.

“The index for cereals and bakery products rose 16.1 percent over the year. The remaining major grocery store food groups posted increases ranging from 7.7 percent (meats, poultry, fish, and eggs) to 15.3 percent (dairy and related products),” BLS said.

As The Center Square previously reported, here are some seasonally adjusted price changes for urban consumers for the major food categories in December as well as the annual numbers, according to BLS’ data:

Cereals and bakery products prices saw no change in December but rose 16.1% in the last year. Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 1% in December and 7.7% in the last year. Dairy and related products prices declined 0.3% in December but rose 15.3% in the last year. Fruits and vegetable prices declined 0.6% in December but rose 8.4% in the last year. Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials prices rose 0.1% in December and 12.4% in the last year. BLS’ “other food at home” category saw a 0.4% increase in December and a 13.9% increase in the last year.