Both Parties Seek Advantage in Last Jobs Report Before Midterms

Republicans seized on a slight uptick in the unemployment rate as they focused their closing message on the economy. Democrats defended ‘steady, sustainable’ job growth and warned that G.O.P. victories would risk backsliding.

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Both Parties Seek Advantage in Last Jobs Report Before Midterms |

President Biden used the jobs report on Friday to tout the strength of the economy, while Republican campaign messaging seized on the increase in the unemployment rate as a line of attack ahead of Tuesday’s elections.

The last major jobs report ahead of the midterm contests on Tuesday was greeted with applause from Democrats and jeers from Republicans as both parties updated their closing messages to align with voters on the issue they overwhelmingly point to as their top priority in the elections.

Republicans seized on a slight uptick in the unemployment rate to hammer Democrats over inflation, which has burdened voters with higher costs for food and gas. “The worst jobs report of the year,” the Republican National Committee said in a statement.

Democrats sought to walk a finer line, highlighting the strength of an economy that has added jobs each month of President Biden’s administration while also acknowledging the difficult choices that inflation has presented to many voters.

Employers added 261,000 jobs last month on a seasonally adjusted basis as the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent from 3.5 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday.

“Biden’s agenda has wreaked havoc on families trying to get by,” Ronna McDaniel, the R.N.C. chairwoman, said in a statement. “Lower real wages, higher taxes and out-of-control inflation have made it tougher for Americans to get ahead.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

  • Biden’s Speech: In a prime-time address, President Biden denounced Republicans who deny the legitimacy of elections, warning that the country’s democratic traditions are on the line.
  • State Supreme Court Races: The traditionally overlooked contests have emerged this year as crucial battlefields in the struggle over the course of American democracy.
  • Democrats’ Mounting Anxiety: Top Democratic officials are openly second-guessing their party’s pitch and tactics, saying Democrats have failed to unite around one central message.
  • Social Security and Medicare: Republicans, eyeing a midterms victory, are floating changes to the safety net programs. Democrats have seized on the proposals to galvanize voters.

Officials at the Federal Reserve have been trying to bring inflation under control by raising interest rates. Their hope is to dampen the labor market by making it more difficult for businesses to grow, which would soften wage growth and easing inflation.

Mr. Biden said the jobs report, which exceeded the gain of 200,000 jobs that economists had expected, showed the strength of the economy. He warned that the Republicans’ economic plan would reverse those gains.

“I know families are squeezed by global inflation,” Mr. Biden said on Twitter. “It’s why I have a plan to lower costs and build an economy from the bottom up and middle out. The Republican plan is different. They want to increase health care and energy costs, while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoed Mr. Biden’s assessment, pointing out that the nation has added jobs during each month of Mr. Biden’s presidency, for a total of more than 10 million jobs in the past 21 months.

“Under President Biden and the Democratic Congress, America continues to create jobs at a strong, steady, sustainable pace,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by another three-quarters of a percentage point and signaled plans to keep raising them, even as it suggested that it might slow the pace of increases. Its next rate decision is scheduled for Dec. 14.

Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat of Georgia who is seeking re-election, said he “would have preferred the Feds wait to see the impact of the last rate hike.”

“That is a decision that they made independently,” Mr. Warnock said. “What I’m focused on right now is lowering costs for ordinary Georgians.”

On the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, one of a handful of states expected to determine control of the Senate, the campaign for Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate, sought to pin the slight uptick in unemployment on Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, his Democratic opponent.

“Pennsylvanians have had enough,” Brittany Yanick, the communications director for the Oz campaign, said.

In Texas, Representative Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, signaled that Republicans were not about to accept the strong jobs report on Friday as good news, five days before the election.

“The work force is shrinking, job growth is slowing and unemployment is rising,” Mr. Brady said in a statement. “These are all signs of a Biden-induced recession.”

Katie Glueck, Jonathan Weisman and Maya King contributed reporting.


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