While the U.S. economy contracted for the second straight quarter according to preliminary estimates, President Joe Biden released a statement Thursday morning that did not include the word “recession.”
The country’s GDP fell at a 1.6% annualized rate in the first quarter and by 0.9% in the second rate, meeting the common definition of a recession. But the Biden administration has been hard at work for the last week arguing that isn’t really the case.
“Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth — and regaining all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis — it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation,” Biden’s statement read. “But even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right path and we will come through this transition stronger and more secure.”
Biden’s statement avoids the R-word throughout, touting instead job market growth, the 3.6% unemployment rate, and the more than 1 million jobs created in the second quarter.
“Consumer spending is continuing to grow,” the statement read. “Earlier this week, I met with the Chairman of SK Group from Korea, just one of the companies investing more than $200 billion in American manufacturing since I took office, powering a historic recovery in American manufacturing.”
Thursday’s numbers indicate that the economy has been struggling to stay above water during the historic monetary policy tightening cycle by the Federal Reserve, which is trying to lower soaring inflation.
Residential investment cratered, a sign of the housing market slowing as mortgage rates rise. Consumer spending on goods also turned negative.
Biden administration officials, including National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have all argued in recent days that two quarters of negative GDP growth weren’t included in the “technical definition” of a recession, attempting to do damage control ahead of the negative economic report.
The president continued that trend with his statement, which also points toward future moves he hopes Congress will make that would fit with his agenda.
“My economic plan is focused on bringing inflation down, without giving up all the economic gains we have made,” the statement read. “Congress has an historic chance to do that by passing the CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act without delay.”