White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was confronted with a disappointing jobs report as it broke during her appearance on MSNBC. When confronted with the dismal number live on the air, all she could do was provide an awkward “no comment at this time.”
Economists expected more than 550,000 new jobs in November, but only 210,000 were created, suggesting the labor market is still languishing from people hesitant to return to work.
During her in-studio appearance on “Morning Joe,” Psaki said it was obvious that economic issues were the most pressing for Americans, and Democratic proposals like the nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better bill would lower costs on a variety of issues.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski then noted the November jobs number had just dropped.
“210,000. So if we look at that breaking news right now, that’s a number that feels a little … what? A little off?”
“Well, I know this sounds a little archaic, but I can’t comment on them until 9:30, by rules, because I work at the White House,” Psaki responded.
“What I will say is people can expect the president to continue to say, today, month to month, is that what we’re seeing are good trends, that we are continuing to put people back to work, that we are continuing to see participation in the workforce, that we are continuing to see the unemployment rate go down, but there’s more we need to do to address core problems that have existed long before the pandemic.”
Brzezinski, noting Psaki couldn’t comment apparently for another hour, turned to Democratic strategist Adrienne Elrod to ask what Democrats could do more in order to “own” the economy.
Despite record inflation and continued supply chain problems, Elrod said she was frustrated because the economy is “doing so well,” but Democrats are still forced to play defense.
Similar to pundits like CNN’s Brian Stelter, who have said Americans are putting “feelings” over “facts” when they don’t feel the economy is strong, Elrod asked what Democrats could be doing to make Americans believe it was.
Psaki said people don’t tend to vote on or respond to “data.” She also predicted Build Back Better, the sprawling social policy package currently being debated in the U.S. Senate, would be signed by President Biden by the end of the year.
“That’s why I love being a Democrat, there’s a lot of wonky nerds in the Democratic Party, but we need to make it real for people,” she said. “So we need to really think carefully about not getting too wonkified and making we’re we talk about things in a way that is accessible.”