President Joe Biden said the September jobs report reflects “great progress” in getting the U.S. economy back on track after a year and a half of Covid-19 pandemic disruption, even as the overall jobs number came in lower than expected.

“Today, for the first time since March of 2020, the American unemployment rate is below 5%,” Biden said Friday in remarks at the White House following the Labor Department’s release of monthly jobs numbers earlier in the day.

The unemployment rate in September fell to 4.8%, better than the expected 5.1%.

The president largely dismissed what was, for markets, arguably the biggest takeaway from the September report: the fact that nonfarm payrolls rose by just 194,000, compared with the Dow Jones estimate of 500,000.

“The monthly totals bounce around,” Biden said, “but if you take a look at the trend, it’s solid.”

The president also drew attention to the sharp increase in wages. “Working Americans are seeing their paychecks go up as well. In September, we saw one of the largest increases in average wages paid to working Americans on record,” said Biden.

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