(Bloomberg) -- A blockbuster jobs report Friday triggered a morning stock slump and reignited Wall Street worries that the Federal Reserve will keep rates high to fight against inflation.

But President Joe Biden seized on the report as unabashedly good news for his economic agenda ahead of an expected reeelection bid, hailing data showing the US economy added 517,000 new jobs in January, blowing out estimates. The fresh numbers pushed total job gains under Biden’s term — which began in the depths of the pandemic — to 12 million.

Biden learned the numbers Thursday from outgoing National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and added a speech at the White House Friday morning to his schedule to tout the numbers. The president touched on them again later in the day at an infrastructure-focused event.

“There’s now 12 million more Americans who can look at their kid and say, ‘it’s going to be okay,’” said Biden at the event in Philadelphia.


The January job gains drove the unemployment rate to 3.4%, the lowest since 1969. But the strong report also sent stocks tumbling because it signaled a persistent inflation fight that could lead the Fed to keep rates higher for longer.

The Fed hiked rates by 25 basis points this week, part of a slowdown as its previous increases work their way through the US economy. Roaring jobs gains will fuel concerns that there’s more to do to bring down inflation.

Biden said he took no blame for the high inflation which has bedeviled American consumers and said his administration is making progress on that front.

“Do I take the blame for inflation? No,” Biden said in response to a question. “Because it was already there when I got here.”

“They said we can’t make things in America anymore, that somehow adding jobs was a bad thing,” Biden said at the White House. “Today’s data makes crystal clear what I’ve always known in my gut: These critics and cynics are wrong.”

Read more: Blockbuster Jobs Report to Push Fed to Hike and Keep Rates High

Officials explaining Biden’s view said the data overall are positive and noted that the Dow Jones Industrial Average was in positive territory by midday. The Dow slumped again in the afternoon and closed down 0.4%.

The White House celebrated huge job gains early in the Biden administration but has since sent warnings that it foresaw that growth moderating to a more stable pace and tried to set expectations among the public for more tepid job numbers. But the labor market continues to be robust. 

Officials have said they hope the Fed can tame inflation without major job losses.

“Even as the job market reaches historic highs, inflation continues to come down,” Biden said Friday.

Biden is preparing a State of the Union address next week and an anticipated reelection announcement this spring, which he has teed up with speeches touting job gains, the low unemployment rate and manufacturing jobs in particular.

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