By Daniel Dale
During a campaign-style Friday speech at a Democratic National Committee event in Washington, President Joe Biden boasted about the three-month decline in gas prices and about the unemployment rate.
But he used inaccurate figures on both subjects.
Biden said: “Gas prices — I know I got criticized for going into the stockpile. But guess what? Gas prices are down, $1.30 a gallon. And in 41 states plus the District of Columbia, the average gasoline price is less than $2.99.”
Facts First: Biden’s claim about average gasoline prices was false, as the White House acknowledged by correcting the official transcript after CNN inquired about the claim on Friday afternoon. In fact, zero states have an average price under $2.99 per gallon, figures from GasBuddy and the American Automobile Association show. As the correction notes, Biden got a key digit wrong: 41 states and the District of Columbia have an average price under $3.99, not $2.99.
Biden has correctly used the $3.99 figure in previous remarks, and it’s good when a White House is willing to correct inaccuracies. But the price of gas is one of the most important numbers in politics. Even if the President made an inadvertent error this time, his incorrect remark was televised live on CNN and MSNBC.
The national average price for regular gasoline is $3.689, according to AAA.
The unemployment rate
Biden said: “We have a 3.7% unemployment rate, the lowest in 50 — more than 50 years.”
Facts First: The 3.7% unemployment rate is low by historical standards, but it’s not the lowest in 50 years or in more than 50 years. In fact, the monthly rate was lower than 3.7% — either 3.6% or 3.5% — nine times in 2019 and early 2020, during former President Donald Trump’s tenure, plus five times during Biden’s own presidency.
A White House official noted Friday that on at least five previous occasions this month, Biden has correctly said that the current unemployment rate is “near” a 50-year low. (Before the Trump era, the rate hadn’t been as low as 3.5% since 1969.) By claiming this time that the 3.7% rate is the lowest in more than 50 years, though, Biden not only erased the recent uptick from 3.5% to 3.7% but erased the performance of the pre-pandemic economy under his Republican predecessor.
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