Biden’s Numbers (Second Quarterly Update)

Summary

Since President Joe Biden took office:

  • The economy regained nearly 9 million jobs, coming within about half a million of the pre-pandemic peak.
  • Unemployment fell to 3.6%; unfilled job openings surged, with 1.9 slots for every person seeking work.
  • Inflation roared back to the highest level in over 40 years. Consumer prices are up 12.6%. Gasoline alone nearly doubled.
  • Wages rose briskly, by 7.7%. But after adjusting for inflation, “real” weekly earnings went down 5.3%.
  • The economy contracted at an estimated annual rate of 1.6% during the first three months of this year, after rising 5.7% in 2021.
  • Corporate profits reached another record high of $2.62 trillion last year, and they’re running a bit higher in 2022.
  • Consumer confidence in the economy reached the lowest point on record.
  • Apprehensions of those trying to enter the country illegally through the southwest border are up 336% for the past 12 months, compared with President Donald Trump’s last year in office.
  • In President Joe Biden’s first full 17 months in office, the U.S. has admitted 25,108 refugees, still far below his goal of 125,000 a year.
  • The federal deficit has declined, but the public debt has still increased by 10.4%.
  • The U.S. trade deficit grew by over 49% and is on pace for a new annual high.
  • The number of Americans without health insurance decreased slightly, by 1.6 million people from 2020 to 2021.
  • Crude oil production and imports have increased — up 1.1% and 6.8%, respectively.
  • Gun sales, as estimated by using background checks, have declined by more than 30%.
  • The NASDAQ composite index is down, while the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average have registered only small gains.
  • The number of people receiving food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is down 2.2%.

Analysis

This is our second quarterly update of “Biden’s Numbers,” the continuation of a regular feature we began in 2012 on statistical measures of the country’s economic and social well-being under the occupant of the White House.

As we’ve said many times, we don’t assign blame or credit to the president for these figures; opinions will differ on that. We also don’t yet have data on some topics for 2021, Biden’s first year in office. Later this year, we should have Census Bureau figures on poverty and household income, an FBI report on nationwide crime, and gun manufacturing data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Jobs and Unemployment

The number of people with jobs has increased dramatically since Biden took office, but total employment hasn’t quite returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Employment — The U.S. economy added 8,963,000 jobs between Biden’s inauguration and June, the latest month for which data is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But there were still 524,000 fewer people working in June than there were in February 2020, the peak of total employment before COVID-19 forced mass shutdowns and layoffs.

When the June figures were released, Biden boasted that the private sector had recovered. “We have more Americans working today in the private sector … than any time in American history,” he said. And it’s true that private sector employment now exceeds the pre-pandemic peak by 140,000 jobs. But government employment is still 664,000 jobs short of recovery. Almost half that shortfall — 334,000 — is among public school teachers and other local education workers.

Unemployment — The unemployment rate fell from 6.4% at the time Biden took office to 3.6% during March, April, May and June — a decline of 2.8 percentage points. Biden correctly noted that the current rate is “near a historic low.”

Since 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records, the jobless rate has been at or below 3.6% for only 69 months, or 7.7% of the time. Nine of those months were during the Trump years, when the rate hit a low of 3.5% in February 2020, just before the pandemic. That was the lowest since the 1960s. The lowest on record was 2.5% in May and June 1953.

Job Openings — The number of unfilled job openings soared to a record of nearly 11.9 million as of the last business day of March, the highest in the 21 years the BLS has tracked the measure.

The number had slipped down to just under 11.3 million on the last business day of May, the most recent month on record. But even that is an increase of just over 4 million openings, or nearly 56%, during Biden’s time.

So many openings, in fact, that in May there was an average of nearly 1.9 jobs for every job seeker.

(June data on openings will be released on Aug. 2.)

Labor Force Participation — One reason many job openings go unfilled is that millions of Americans left the workforce during the pandemic and haven’t returned. The labor force participation rate (the percentage of the total population over age 16 that is either employed or actively seeking work) has inched up slightly during Biden’s time, from 61.4% in January 2021 to 62.2% in June.

But that’s an increase of only 0.8 percentage points, and still well below the pre-pandemic rate of 63.4% for February 2020. And even that increase is likely temporary.

The rate peaked at 67.3% in the first four months of 2000, but has since been in decline. It went down under both Republican and Democratic presidents — by 1.5 percentage points under President George W. Bush, by another 2.9 points under Barack Obama and by a further 1.4 points under Donald Trump.

In its 10-year economic projection, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted — both before and after Biden took office — that the rate will continue to decline over the next decade.

Manufacturing Jobs — During the presidential campaign, Biden promised he had a plan to create a million new manufacturing jobs — and whether it’s his doing or not, the number is rising briskly.

As of June, the U.S. added 613,000 manufacturing jobs during Biden’s time, a 5% increase in the space of 17 months, according to BLS. Furthermore, the June total is 12,000 above the number of manufacturing jobs in February 2020, before the pandemic forced plant closures and layoffs.

During Trump’s four years, the economy lost 182,000 manufacturing jobs, or 1.4%, largely due to the pandemic. The number recovered steadily during Trump’s last eight months, and has continued to rise under Biden.

Wages and Inflation

CPI — Inflation came roaring back under Biden — with prices rising faster than they have in over 40 years.

During his first 17 months in office, the Consumer Price Index rose 12.6%.

It’s the worst inflation in decades. The most recent 12 months on record, ending in June, saw a 9.1% increase in the CPI (before seasonal adjustment), which the Bureau of Labor Statistics said was the biggest such increase since the 12 months ending in November 1981.

Inflation had been relatively dormant for years before Biden. The CPI rose an average of only 1.9% each year of the Trump presidency (measured as the 12-month change ending each January), 1.8% during President Barack Obama’s eight years and 2.4% during George W. Bush’s two terms.

The current inflation is hitting especially hard where people experience it most regularly — at the gas pump and at the grocery store. In the most recent 12 months, gasoline prices increased 59.9% and food at home increased 12.2%, the BLS said.

Gasoline Prices — The psychological effect of inflation is magnified by that huge spike in gasoline prices, which are advertised in foot-high numbers on street corners everywhere.

The rise was shocking. The national average price of regular gasoline at the pump soared to a brief peak of just over $5 a gallon for the week ending June 13 — the highest weekly price ever recorded by the Energy Information Administration.

Since then the price has been drifting down, but was still $4.49 per gallon during the week ending July 18, the most recent week on record. That’s an increase of 88.7% since the week before Biden took office. The level is still well above the old pre-Biden record, which was $4.11 for two weeks in July 2008, during George W. Bush’s last year in office.

Biden blames “Putin’s price hike” for this pain at the pump, but the fact is gasoline prices already had gone up 48% under Biden as of the week before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Prices actually began rising before Biden’s inauguration. Experts have told us the primary cause of higher gas prices is a global supply and demand issue brought about by the world’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and Russia’s invasion.

Relief may come, gradually. “We forecast gasoline prices will average $4.05/gal in 2022 and $3.57/gal in 2023” the EIA said in its most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook this month.

Wages — Wages also have gone up under Biden, but not as fast as prices.

Average weekly earnings for rank-and-file workers went up over 7.7% during Biden’s first 17 months in office, according to monthly figures compiled by the BLS. Those production and nonsupervisory workers make up 81% of all employees in the private sector.

But inflation ate up all that gain and more. What are called “real” earnings, adjusted for inflation and measured in dollars valued at their average level in 1982-84, actually declined 5.3% during that time.

And as of June, real earnings for rank-and-file workers have fallen to below where they were in February 2020, before the pandemic.

Economic Growth

Biden’s economic fortunes took a turn for the worse in the first quarter of 2022.

The economy contracted at an estimated annual rate of 1.6% during the first three months of this year, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. That figure – the most recent estimate for first-quarter growth in the nation’s real gross domestic product – accounts for the high rate of inflation.

The economic contraction follows a 5.7% increase in Biden’s first year – a bounce-back year after the pandemic-battered economy shrank by 3.4% in 2020.

Economists weren’t expecting last year’s level of growth to continue. But the decline in real GDP in the first quarter caught some by surprise. Now, many economists are warning of a recession.

According to a survey by the Financial Times and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, nearly 70% of 49 economists surveyed believe there will be a recession next year.

The first official estimate for the second quarter of 2022 won’t be released until July 28. However, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s “GDP Now” estimated on July 19 that the economy will decline by 1.6% in the second quarter.

Corporate Profits

After-tax corporate profits reached a record high of $2.62 trillion last year — and they are running slightly higher so far this year.

The 2021 profits were 37.3% higher than the full-year figure for 2020, as estimated by the BEA (see line 45).

The BEA’s most recent estimate, covering the first three months of 2022, shows after-tax profits running at an annual rate of nearly $2.73 trillion — an increase of nearly 43% over the full-year 2020 figure.

Consumer Sentiment

After rising early in Biden’s presidency, consumer confidence in the economy reached the lowest point on record.

Shortly after Biden assumed the presidency, the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers reported that its monthly Index of Consumer Sentiment rose from 79 in January 2021 to 88.3 in April 2021, as COVID-19 vaccines became more available and economic conditions improved.

But last April’s index was a high point for Biden, as rising inflation has eroded consumer confidence in the economy.

The monthly index was a record-low 50 in June — 29 points lower than it was when Biden took office. The preliminary results for July showed the Index of Consumer Sentiment was relatively unchanged at 51.1. (The final July index will be released July 29.)

“The share of consumers blaming inflation for eroding their living standards continued its rise to 49%, matching the all-time high reached during the Great Recession,” Surveys of Consumers Director Joanne Hsu said in a release announcing the preliminary results for July. “These negative views endured in the face of the recent moderation in gas prices at the pump.”

Home Prices & Homeownership

Home Prices — Home prices continue to climb under Biden.

The most recent figures from the National Association of Realtors show the median price of an existing, single-family home sold in June was $423,300 — up 37.4% from January 2021.

The median existing-home price for all housing types — not just single-family houses — was a record-high $416,000, up 13.4% from a year ago ($366,900). “This marks 124 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record,” NAR said in a July 20 press release.

Home prices in Biden’s first year set new records, because of low interest rates, a lack of adequate inventory and other factors. That trend has continued in the first half of this year, although the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes are expected to slow housing prices.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.51% as of July 14, nearly double the rate a year ago, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

“We will see house price growth to level off here, and we’ll see some price declines in some of the more juiced up markets across the country. And in my mind, that’s a correction when house prices start to go lower,” Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, told CBS News.

Homeownership — With housing prices high and inventory low, the homeownership rate has barely budged under Biden.

The homeownership rate, which the Census Bureau measures as the percentage of occupied housing units that are owner-occupied, was 65.4% in the first quarter of 2022 — 0.2 percentage points lower than a year ago and 0.4 percentage points lower than the 65.8% rate during Trump’s last quarter in office. (Word of caution: The bureau warns against making comparisons with the fourth quarter of 2020, because of pandemic-related restrictions on in-person data collection.)

The rate peaked under Trump in the second quarter of 2020 at 67.9%, before the economic effects of the pandemic drove down homeownership rates.

The highest homeownership rate on record was 69.2% in 2004, when George W. Bush was president.

Immigration

The number of apprehensions of people trying to enter the U.S. illegally at the southwest border continues to soar under Biden.

To even out the seasonal changes in border crossings, our measure compares the most recent 12 months on record with the year prior to a president taking office. And for the past 12 months ending in June, apprehensions totaled 2,216,791, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s 336% higher than during Trump’s last year in office.

As we have noted in past roundups of Biden’s numbers, apprehensions were on the rise when Trump left office — and were 14.7% higher in Trump’s last year compared with the year before he took office. But the number of apprehensions has jumped dramatically since Biden became president.

And since our last quarterly Biden report, apprehensions have continued to rise steeply. In May, there were 224,220 apprehensions — representing a new high for the Biden administration and more than any single month going back to at least fiscal year 2000.

Most of the recent increase in attempted illegal border crossings can be attributed to migrants coming from countries not among the traditional feeder countries of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Jessica Bolter, an associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, told us in a phone interview. For example, between February and May, Bolter said, there has been a 98% increase in apprehensions of migrants from Colombia, and a 54% increase in those from Cuba. (Over the same period, apprehensions of migrants from Mexico have risen 4%.) There have also been increases in migrants from Nicaragua, Venezuela and Brazil.

Cuba alone has accounted for 139,000 of the migrants attempting to illegally cross into the U.S. this fiscal year, Bolter said. Cuba has been experiencing the worst economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, causing massive inflation, she said, and a political crackdown on dissidents has encouraged many to flee the country. And in November 2021, Nicaragua lifted the tourist visa requirement for Cubans. That made it more accessible for Cubans to fly to Nicaragua, and then to head to the U.S. via a land route.

Much of the migration from these countries is driven by the continued economic impact of the pandemic, Bolter said, which has led to high levels of unemployment and food insecurity throughout Latin America. And that is coupled with significant job opportunities in the U.S., which is experiencing a high demand for labor.

Another factor, Bolter said, is that immediate expulsion from Title 42 is significantly lower for people coming from these other countries. Title 42 is a public health law invoked at the southwest border in March 2020 that allowed border officials to immediately turn away many of those caught trying to enter the country illegally. Trump invoked the law because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mexico has for the most part refused to accept expelled migrants from countries other than Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, so U.S. immigration authorities can’t just turn around people who have come from other countries. That makes expulsion more resource-intensive for border officials, Bolter said, because they need to arrange flights and travel documents. With resources already stretched thin, she said, border officials simply don’t invoke Title 42 as readily for people from those countries.

So while the Title 42 expulsion rate in fiscal year 2022 is 88% for people coming from Mexico, 67% for people from Guatemala and 64% from Honduras, it is far lower for people from countries such as Cuba (2%), Colombia (4%), Nicaragua (3%) and Venezuela (0.4%). If migrants are not immediately expelled via Title 42, there is “a chance of staying, at least temporarily,” as their cases work through the immigration process, Bolter said, thereby encouraging some people from these countries to attempt migration to the U.S.

Also contributing to the increase in illegal immigration, she said, is that “the Biden administration is perceived as being more lenient toward migrants at the border than the Trump administration was,” which has encouraged more people to attempt to come to the U.S.

On April 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was terminating its Title 42 order, effective May 23. At the time, the Department of Homeland Security warned that lifting the order could trigger a “significant increase in migration and enforcement encounters.” But in mid-May, before the termination took effect, a federal judge blocked the lifting of the order, and it remains in place.

It’s hard to know, Bolter said, how much impact the Biden administration’s efforts to cease Title 42 had on the migrant surge. There was clearly a rush of Haitian migrants amassing on the Mexican side of the border in anticipation of the lifting of Title 42, she said. (Outside of traditional immigration feeder countries, Haiti has the highest Title 42 expulsion rate — 36% in fiscal year 2022.) When Title 42 was kept in place by a federal judge, many of those Haitian immigrants likely tried to cross into the U.S. anyway, Bolter said.

Refugees

Biden remains far from meeting his goal — first set as a candidate — of accepting 125,000 refugees into the United States each fiscal year.

As president, Biden set the cap at 125,000 for fiscal year 2022, which began Oct. 1, 2021, and ends Sept. 30, 2022. But to accomplish that goal, the U.S. would have to admit on average 10,417 refugees each month. So far, State Department data show that the U.S. in the first nine months of fiscal year 2022 has admitted a total of only 15,100 refugees, or less than 1,700 per month. (Select “Refugee Admissions Report” to view the data.)

In Biden’s first full 17 months in office, the U.S. has admitted 25,108 refugees, or 1,477 per month. That’s nearly 20% less than the 1,843 monthly average during Trump’s four years. (For both presidents, our monthly averages include only full months in office, excluding the month of January 2017 and January 2021, when administrations overlapped.)

In setting the goal at 125,000 for fiscal year 2022, the State Department said “the pandemic globally continues to affect the ability” of the administration “to process large numbers of refugees safely and will undoubtedly impact activity into FY 2022.” The department also said it needed to rebuild its staff after four years of cuts in staffing and resources by the Trump administration.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has forced more than 5.9 million Ukrainians to flee the country for another European country, and more than 3.7 million to register for temporary residence in those countries, as of July 19, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Biden administration has said it will accept up to 100,000 Ukrainians into the United States by whatever legal means are available, “including the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, parole, and visas.”

From February, when the war began, through June, the U.S. has accepted 763 refugees from Ukraine. That’s nearly three times more than the U.S. accepted during the same five-month period a year ago.

The “normal refugee” process “takes a long time,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an April 6 interview, so the Biden administration is looking at other “legal pathways” to assist Ukrainian refugees.

Debt and Deficits

Debt — As of July 18, the public debt, which does not include money the government owes itself, had increased to almost $23.89 trillion – up from $23.85 trillion on April 11, when we last checked.

Under Biden, the public debt so far has gone up 10.4%. It increased by 50% during Trump’s four years in office.

Deficits — On the other hand, federal borrowing declined during the first nine months of fiscal year 2022 when compared with the same period in fiscal year 2021, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

In its monthly budget review for June, CBO said the deficit through the first nine months of the current fiscal year (from October 2021 to June 2022) was $514 billion, or roughly 23% of the $2.24 trillion deficit during the same nine-month period in fiscal year 2021. The cumulative deficit for the first three quarters of fiscal 2022 is also lower than the respective deficits of $747 billion and $2.74 trillion during the same periods in fiscal 2019 and 2020.

The CBO said it now expects the annual deficit for fiscal 2022 to be lower than the $1 trillion it projected in May.

Trade

The international trade deficit grew more than 36% under Trump and has continued to increase under Biden.

The latest BEA figures show that the U.S. imported over $971.5 billion more in goods and services than it exported during the most recent 12 months ending in May. That trade gap was $317.5 billion, or about 49%, higher than in 2020.

Through the first five months of 2022, the U.S. imported a monthly average of $91.2 billion more in goods and services than it exported. That means the country is still on track for an annual trade deficit of more than $1 trillion, which would be the largest one-year trade deficit on record.

Health Insurance

The latest information from the National Health Interview Survey shows that the number of Americans without health insurance dropped, but not significantly, from 2020 to 2021. The estimates, released in early May, are that 30 million people were uninsured at the time they were interviewed in 2021, 1.6 million fewer than the number uninsured in 2020.

In percentage terms, 9.2% of the population was uninsured at the time of the interview in 2021, compared with 9.7% in 2020.

The estimates are early release figures subject to some final editing and weighting.

The Census Bureau collects the data for the NHIS, but the bureau also releases an annual report on the number of people who were uninsured for the entire year (as opposed to those without health insurance at the time they were interviewed). The report for 2021 should be released in September.

The latest NHIS report also found that the percentage of nonelderly Americans with insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges went up under Biden: from 3.8% in 2020 to 4.3% in 2021.

Oil Production and Imports

U.S. crude oil production averaged roughly 11.41 million barrels per day during Biden’s most recent 12 months in office (ending in April), according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data published this month. That was 1.1% higher than the average daily amount of crude oil produced in 2020.

Over the first four months of 2022, the EIA estimates crude oil production averaged 11.5 million barrels per day — about 6.4% more than the average for the first four months of 2021. In its Short-Term Energy Outlook for June, the EIA projected that crude oil production would average 11.9 million barrels per day in 2022, which would be the highest annual average of any year except 2019.

However, U.S. crude oil imports in Biden’s last 12 months increased to an average of nearly 6.3 million barrels per day — up more than 6.8% from imports in 2020. The EIA currently forecasts that the U.S. will import about 3.1 million barrels per day more than it exports in 2022.

Carbon Emissions

In the most recent 12 months on record, there were more than 4.93 billion metric tons of emissions from the consumption of coal, natural gas and various petroleum products, according to the EIA’s latest estimates. That’s up over 7.7% from the almost 4.58 billion metric tons that were emitted in 2020, but still below the pre-pandemic total of about 5.15 billion metric tons emitted in 2019.

The EIA has said the increase “followed a rise in economic activity and energy consumption once the initial economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic began to subside.”

As of July, the EIA projects that energy-related CO2 emissions will increase by 1.5% this year. Natural gas and petroleum-related emissions are expected to increase in 2022 by 3.6% and 2.4%, respectively, while emissions from coal are projected to fall by 3.9%.

Crime

There are limited crime data for Biden’s time in office. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, which collects statistics from law enforcement agencies in big cities, reported that the number of homicides in the first quarter of 2022 in 68 agencies was slightly lower than the number in the first quarter of 2021. There were 1,977 homicides in the first quarter of this year, down 3% from a year prior.

Those quarterly numbers show rapes also declined, by 3.7%, while robberies and aggravated assaults increased by 10.6% and 3.2%, respectively.

The homicide figures are only for part of the year, but they show a reversal from the association’s recent reports. Homicides went up 6.2%, comparing all of 2020 to 2021, based on data from 70 law enforcement agencies, and before Biden had taken office, homicides climbed 32.7% from 2019 to 2020, according to figures from 66 agencies.

The nonpartisan think tank Council on Criminal Justice found similar recent trends. Its latest report shows a 5% increase in the number of homicides from 2020 to 2021 in 22 U.S. cities, but there was an even larger increase the year before. Over the two-year span, from 2019 to 2021, homicides went up 44%, “representing 1,298 additional lives lost.” The report noted the “homicide rate remains well below historical highs” in the early 1990s. The lead author of the council’s report, Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, told us homicides for these cities are down in the first six months of 2022, compared with the same time period in 2021.

Nationwide crime statistics from the FBI for 2021 aren’t available yet, and once they come out, there will be increased uncertainty around these figures due to a new crime reporting system. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program had been using what was called the Summary Reporting System, but as of Jan. 1, 2021, law enforcement agencies were supposed to have transitioned to the National Incident-Based Reporting System. Many haven’t done so.

The FBI said in March and again in June that too few law enforcement agencies — under 60% — had filed reports to the FBI to allow for preliminary trend data for the entire population in its more limited quarterly reports.

Rosenfeld told us that for the upcoming 2021 annual report, the FBI will have actual numbers for about two-thirds of jurisdictions, but it will estimate, along with the Bureau of Justice Statistics, crime data for the rest. The actual numbers won’t include what he calls “the big shots” – New York City and Los Angeles – because they haven’t made that transition to the NIBRS. “It leaves us with a high degree of uncertainty over whether crime is going up or down nationwide and in local jurisdictions,” he said, noting that this problem comes at a time of heightened concern over crime.

The FBI said the NIBRS would be an improvement, because it includes more information on the “circumstances and context” of crimes, such as the date and time, demographic information and more details about victims. It also allows for the reporting of more offenses than the old SRS and for the reporting of multiple offenses during the same incident. The SRS only allowed agencies to record the most serious crime in one incident, while the NIBRS can record up to 10 crimes per incident.

That means the new system also will inherently show more crimes. Rosenfeld said if that was the only problem, it could be interpreted properly. “But we’re going to have elevated crime rates for that reason and in addition we’re going to have uncertain crime rates because of all the estimation that will be done,” he said. “The mix is going to generate a great deal of concern, uncertainty and quite obviously, I think, debate about what the numbers actually mean.”

We have asked the FBI about this issue and when the 2021 report will be released, and we haven’t received a response.

Gun Sales

Gun purchases declined yet again during the second quarter of 2022, according to estimates from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group.

Since the federal government doesn’t collect data on gun sales, the NSSF estimates gun sales by tracking the number of background checks for firearm sales based on the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System, or NICS. The NSSF-adjusted figures exclude background checks unrelated to sales, such as those required for concealed-carry permits.

The group reported that the NSSF-adjusted NICS total for background checks during the second quarter of the year was 3.92 million, which is about 9% less than the 4.3 million in the second quarter of 2021. It’s also more than 30% lower than the 5.63 million in Trump’s last full quarter in office.

Overall, there were 8.12 million background checks for firearm sales in the first six months of 2022. That was roughly 25% less than the 10.8 million in the last six months of 2020.

Stock Markets

A rough 2022 for the markets threatens to completely wipe out any gains that had been made under Biden.

The stock markets rose steadily under the previous two presidents. The S&P 500 index rose 166% over the eight years Obama was in office, and it climbed another 67.8% during Trump’s four years. But the S&P 500 is up 4.2% over the entirety of Biden’s presidency at the close of the market on July 20. For the year, it’s down 17.1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is made up of 30 large corporations, is up just 3.1% since Biden took office. For the year, the Dow dropped 12.3%.

The NASDAQ composite index, made up of more than 3,000 companies, including many in the technology sector, has been hit the hardest — saddled by tech stocks that have been performing particularly poorly. The NASDAQ is down 9.8% since Biden took office and a staggering 24% so far this year.

A year ago, Biden dismissed concerns about inflation and pointed to the stock market performance as a sign that the economy was strong.

“There’s nobody suggesting there’s unchecked inflation on the way — no serious economist,” Biden told reporters on July 19, 2021.

“I mean, look, the stock market is higher than it has been in all of history, even went down this month — even down this month,” Biden added. “Now, I don’t look at the stock market as a means by which to judge the economy like my predecessor did.  But he’d be very — he’d be talking to you every day for the last five months about how the stock market is so high — higher than any time in history, still higher than any time in history.”

But that is not the case anymore.

Judiciary Appointments

Supreme Court — Biden has won confirmation for one Supreme Court nominee, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. At the same point in his term, Trump also had won confirmation for one justice.

Court of Appeals — Biden has won confirmation for 17 U.S. Court of Appeals judges, as of July 20, including Jackson, who was an appeals court judge for nearly 10 months before the Senate voted to confirm her to the Supreme Court in April. Trump had won confirmation for 23 at the same point in his presidency.

District Court — For federal District Courts, 53 of Biden’s nominees have been confirmed. At the same point in Trump’s tenure, 20 nominees had been confirmed.

Two U.S. Court of Federal Claims judges also have been confirmed under Biden.

There were 79 federal court vacancies, with 34 nominees pending, as of July 18.

Food Stamps

Since our last update, almost 109,000 more people came off the rolls for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, according to the Department of Agriculture’s latest data.

As of April, the most recent month for which preliminary figures are available, about 41.23 million people were receiving food assistance. That figure is down 2.2%, or about 945,000, from the nearly 42.2 million who were accessing benefits when Biden took office in January 2021.

Under Trump, there were as few as 36.9 million collecting SNAP benefits in February 2020. But that figure increased to as many as 43 million beneficiaries in June 2020, as more people turned to the program during the height of the pandemic.

Thus far, the highest total under Biden was about 42.3 million in February 2021. The lowest was 40.8 million in August and September.

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Sources

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National): Total Nonfarm. Accessed 20 Jul 2022.

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