By many measures, Bidenomics is working—but most Americans are still down on the economy. That’s in large part because the U.S. government let its temporarily generous social safety net unravel.

by Nick French, In These Times

By many major indicators, the economy under President Joe Biden is doing great.

Real GDP has grown 5% since 2019. Unemployment has fallen to a low of 3.7% after a peak of around 15% in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. And inflation, although still higher than pre-pandemic levels, appears to be receding. Real wages are up by 3.5% since Biden took office, with low-wage workers seeing the biggest of those gains between July 2022 and July 2023.

Yet many Americans still seem decidedly unhappy with economic conditions today. Several recent polls have found that people in the United States hold negative views of the economy and of how President Biden has been handling it, despite the rosy macroeconomic indicators. For instance, the Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, which has been measuring consumer confidence levels nationwide since 1978, found that consumers’ feelings about the economy and their personal finances — although up from an all-time low last summer — were still quite negative in August 2023. And a July New York Times poll found that only 20% of Americans would rate economic conditions today as ​excellent” or ​good.” (By contrast, 49% rated the economy ​poor.”)

President Joe Biden Jr. greets Senator Charles Schumer before highlights funding for the Hudson River Tunnel project at West Side Yard gate in New York

This disconnect has led many pundits to wonder what’s going on, with some chalking up Americans’ low opinion of ​Bidenomics” to partisanship or ignorance. Look beyond topline metrics like GDP growth or unemployment, though, and you’ll find a more complicated story. Many Americans report struggling financially, in part because of the discontinuation of many early pandemic welfare policies. So even as the U.S. economy has reaped continued benefits from those programs and is seeing a jobs boom driven in part by the federal government’s historic investments in clean energy and domestic manufacturing, many people are understandably resentful at feeling like the ladder’s been kicked out from under them.

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