© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Mexico City, Mexico December 6, 2023. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will travel to battleground states of Pennsylvania and Michigan this week as part of an election-year push aimed at showcasing what she calls “the strongest economic comeback of our lifetimes.”
Yellen will visit Pittsburgh on Feb. 13 and Detroit on Feb. 14 for events with elected officials and community leaders focused on the Biden administration’s efforts to lower healthcare costs, support small businesses and boost economic opportunity, Treasury said.
The trips build on Yellen’s visits to Illinois and Wisconsin in January and other states such as Nevada and North Carolina last year. Pennsylvania and Michigan are among the seven states President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign considers election battlegrounds because their voters’ preferences could swing to either party and determine the outcome of November’s race.
But the administration’s repeated efforts to showcase its economic successes have thus far failed to convince the American public, according to recent polls.
A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed President Joe Biden is running six percentage points behind Republican frontrunner former President Donald Trump, with voters focused on immigration challenges, Biden’s age and still unhappy about the economy despite big improvements since he took office in 2021.
Yellen has counseled patience in the past, arguing that the shock caused by the COVID pandemic left lingering concerns, while expressing confidence about improving consumer sentiment
“Over the past three years, the Biden administration has driven the strongest economic comeback of our lifetimes,” Yellen said in a speech to be given at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday. She will meet with business leaders at the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and plans a working lunch with strong Biden backer Democratic Senator Bob Casey.
Yellen will hail strong economic growth in the U.S., a quicker and more rapid cooling of inflation than in other advanced economies, and the continued strength of the labor market.
With unemployment below 4% and household median wealth up 37% between 2019 and 2022 – the largest three-year increase on record – Americans now had more purchasing power, she said.
In Detroit, whose economic recovery has lagged other cities somewhat, Yellen will speak at a joint event with Governor Gretchen Whitmer, meet with Senator Debbie Stabenow and local business leaders, and give a speech focused on small businesses.
Detroit has seen economic advances, but other Midwestern counterparts have higher numbers of workers earning a living wage, according to University of Michigan economists.