White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeatedly deflected questions from reporters about massive layoffs at technology companies and claimed that the economy under President Joe Biden is unswervingly robust.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed on Wednesday that the company would dismiss some 10,000 employees over the next several months to reduce costs amid the challenging macroeconomic climate. The announcement occurred after Amazon CEO Andy Jassy unveiled a total headcount reduction of 18,000 employees. Jean-Pierre nevertheless began her Wednesday press briefing by claiming that Biden “inherited an economic crisis and turned it into the strongest two years of job growth on record.”
One reporter noted that the commander-in-chief has been “quite optimistic” in his latest statements about the economy and asked whether the Microsoft layoffs are a “matter of concern” for the White House. Jean-Pierre responded that Biden watches closely “anytime there are reports of Americans losing their jobs” and affirmed that he “knows firsthand the impact of losing a job and what that can have to your entire family.”
“I don’t have a comment on specific moves announced by particular companies. As you know, we’re very careful from here talking about private companies. But more broadly speaking, layoffs remain near record lows according to job openings data,” she continued. “Companies across the economy are continuing to grow and invest in the United States.”
Another reporter likewise observed that the administration “believes the economy’s resilient” but asked how dismissals would “impact that recovery in the coming months.”
Jean-Pierre replied that “layoffs remain near record lows” across the economy. “We’re seeing the President’s economic policy actually working. And I think that’s important as well,” she said. “Is there more work to do? Always more work to do, and you hear that from us as well.”
“So no immediate concern from these tens of thousands of layoffs across corporate America?” the reporter pressed. “What I’m saying is we’re going to closely monitor this, or, you know, we are always keeping an eye on these things,” Jean-Pierre repeated.
The remarks came after the United States witnessed one of the worst stock market performances in modern history as soaring prices, geopolitical pressures, and backlogged supply chains plagued the economy. The S&P 500 index plummeted nearly 20% in 2022, rivaling the 37% decline seen in 2008 amid the collapse of the banking system, as well as the 12% and 22% declines witnessed in 2001 and 2002 amid the dot-com bubble.
Recent economic data, however, present some signs of improvement. Year-over-year consumer price inflation was charted at 6.5% in December 2022, marking a decline from the 7.1% recorded in the previous month, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Producer price inflation was recorded at 6.2% for 2022, marking a decline from 10% in 2021, according to more data from the agency.
Even as both metrics remained significantly higher than at the beginning of his time in the Oval Office, Biden claimed that the findings are attributable to his economic policies.
“We are making real progress tackling inflation and lowering costs, successfully transitioning from a historic recovery to steady and stable growth,” he said in a statement.