By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will highlight the U.S. economy’s continuing resilience in a major speech in Las Vegas on Monday, touting the creation of 13 million new jobs and progress in driving down inflation, a Treasury official said.
Yellen will speak at a training center operated by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union after touring its cutting-edge clean energy training programs where workers learn how to install solar panels.
The remarks in Nevada, likely to be a key battleground state in the 2024 presidential election, are part of a monthlong travel blitz by President Joe Biden and his cabinet as they work to convince skeptical Americans that their policies are working to boost economic growth and fight global warming.
The U.S. economy has outrun recession warnings with record-low unemployment, strong wage gains and better-than-expected GDP growth, but many voters who backed Biden in 2020 think the economy has faired poorly, and may not vote for him in the 2024 election, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week showed.
Yellen’s speech comes two days before the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), one of three major laws passed since Biden took office that Yellen says are transforming the U.S. economy, rebuilding its manufacturing base and making it fairer for workers and businesses.
The Treasury official said Yellen will say the U.S. economy is on the right track toward stable growth, while underscoring the need to remain vigilant on potential challenges.
She will note that the resilience of the U.S. economy – which she hailed in a major speech last July – has lasted over the past year despite many naysayers, who warned it could not last, the official added.
Yellen will argue that the IRA is making the U.S. less vulnerable to fossil fuel price shocks and strengthening clean energy supply chains, while creating good-paying jobs, the official said.
She will also cite a historically fast jobs recovery and the creation of millions of new jobs, a strong rebound in workforce participation, and the fact that both the inflation and unemployment rates are now below 4% after the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the official added.
The Treasury will complete the first phase of implementing the IRA in coming weeks after issuing 37 separate pieces of guidance on investment and production tax credits over the past year. It will announce plans for the second phase of implementation in September, the official said.
Biden on Thursday welcomed new inflation data released Thursday that showed underlying price pressures were subsiding, with the annual increase in prices excluding food and energy tracking their smallest rise in nearly two years.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis)