Strength Of U.S. Dollar Slips After Poor Jobs Report
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 07: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the December jobs report at the White House on January 07, 2022 in Washington, DC. U.S. employers added 199,000 jobs in the month of December. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The price of the U.S. dollar slipped on Friday following a weaker-than-expected jobs report as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

The Department of Labor reported on Friday morning that the U.S. economy added 199,000 jobs in the month of December. The gain was roughly half of what economists predicted.

The unemployment rate dropped to 3.9%, outpacing economists’ expectations of 4.1%. The share of working adults, however, still has not returned to pre-pandemic levels as many continue to stay out of the workforce, according to Axios.

“Employers want to create new jobs, and are hiring the formerly unemployed, driving down the jobless rate,” Axios reported Friday. “But that isn’t coaxing more people to work. The share of adults in the labor force was unchanged in December and remains 1.5 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels.”

The report preceded a dip in the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar, which fell in value compared to a basket of other currencies. As Reuters reported:

The dollar index fell 0.269% at 96.001. Even with Friday’s weakness, the dollar was still on track for a weekly gain, its first in three weeks.

The euro was up 0.3% to $1.1325 as it strengthened against the greenback in the wake of the payrolls report, after showing little reaction to data showing euro zone inflation rose to 5% in December.

Euro zone policymakers have said they expect inflation to gradually slow down in 2022 and a rate hike will likely not be needed this year.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.12% versus the greenback at 115.71 per dollar. The yen has taken the brunt of the damage while the greenback has strengthened recently, with the dollar hitting a five-year high versus the yen earlier this week.

Sterling was poised for its third straight weekly gain and was last trading at $1.356, up 0.24% on the day, even after data showed growth in Britain’s construction sector cooled in December as the Omicron variant of coronavirus spread.

Biden reacted to the jobs report on Friday, ignoring the poor jobs added number and instead focusing on the unemployment rate.

“It’s a historic day for our economic recovery,” Biden said, according to Fox Business. “Today’s national unemployment rate fell below 4% to 3.9%, the sharpest one-year drop in unemployment in United States history … Years faster than experts said we’d be able to do it, and we have added 6.4 million new jobs since January of last year.”

Biden also touted that from the time he took office in January 2021, the U.S. “went from 20 million people on unemployment rolls to under 2 million on the unemployment rolls today.”

“This is the economy I promised and hoped for, for the American people,” the president said. “Where the biggest benefits go to the people who work the hardest and who are more often left behind. The people who have been ignored before. The people who just want a decent chance to build a decent life for their families.”

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