U.S. business activity contracted for the fourth straight month in October, and the economic downturn “gathered significant momentum,” S&P Global said on Monday, while the White House touted low unemployment rates and credited President Joe Biden’s economic agenda for a “historically strong” economic recovery.
The S&P Global flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, fell to 47.3 this month from a final reading of 49.5 in September.
A reading below 50 indicates private sector contraction. Outside the slump during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, business output is currently retreating at its fastest pace since the global financial crisis of 2008–09, according to S&P Global.
“The U.S. economic downturn gathered significant momentum in October, while confidence in the outlook also deteriorated sharply,” said Chris Williamson, S&P’s chief business economist, in a statement.
“The decline was led by a downward lurch in services activity, fueled by the rising cost of living and tightening financial conditions,” he added.
White House Touts Biden’s Actions on Economy
The White House, meanwhile, has focused on other economic data, seeking to paint a picture of a robust economic recovery under Biden’s stewardship as the midterm election looms large and recent polls show Americans trust Republicans more to better handle the economy and inflation.
Gas prices have fallen by an average of $1.22 per gallon nationwide since hitting record highs in June, with the White House releasing a statement touting Biden’s efforts to bring down prices at the pump.
“President Biden is committed to doing everything in his power to bring prices down for American families,” the White House said, citing Biden’s decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) and his repeated jawboning of oil and gas companies to pass on lower wholesale prices to consumers.
By Tom Ozimek