Washington Post Union Strikes Over 'Record-Level Inflation' as Paper Insists Biden Economy Is Just Fine

Washington Post employees walk a picket line as they stage a 24 hour strike (Getty Images)
December 7, 2023

The Washington Post's union cited "record-level inflation" in its decision to strike on Thursday, after the paper argued that the economy under President Joe Biden is strong despite Americans' pessimism.

"Washington Post employees have been negotiating with management for 18 months," the Washington Post Guild wrote in its announcement of a 24-hour work stoppage. "We still lack a contract that keeps pace with record-level inflation and guarantees workers a living wage."

The strike comes days after the paper's editorial board published a piece that celebrated 2023 as a "miracle year for the U.S. economy," arguing there's a disconnect between Americans' negative views toward the economy and its actual condition. It referenced, among other data points, the fact that inflation has cooled since rising to record levels last year and that jobs and GDP have both grown since 2022, as well as a boom in consumption.

"In many ways," the editorial board wrote, "this is the year the economy finally returned to something close to normal. But many people seem to have forgotten what normal looks like after a traumatic few years."

"The United States has a chance to stick its soft landing," the board added. "It would be even better—for the country’s economy and its politics—if Americans believed it could happen."

In another editorial published just before Thanksgiving, the board argued, "Voters seem to be giving President Biden little or no credit for the modicum of economic and geopolitical stability over which he has presided."

"The typical U.S. family's cup runneth over," the board argued, citing low unemployment and falling inflation.

The paper has published numerous columns since April arguing the economy is strong. Titles include: "Stop the gloom and doom. The economic recovery is strong," "The US Economy Is Great. Stop Worrying About It," "When will Americans stop worrying and learn to love the U.S. economy?," and "Mad at Biden’s inflation record? Another Trump term would be way worse."

The Post published a reported piece in November that blamed inflation for "an economic mystery confounding the White House," namely, that "most Americans are financially better off than they were before the coronavirus pandemic, but they feel worse about their economic prospects."

There has been some dissent in the Post against economic optimism, such as Ramesh Ponnuru's October column titled "Why Americans still don’t like Biden’s economy," which argued Americans simply aren't satisfied by an economy in which inflation has outpaced wage gains.

Although inflation has cooled from its record highs, Americans are still finding it difficult to cope with the high prices that inflation has wrought. A Bloomberg analysis from last month found that costs have increased significantly since January 2020. Groceries, for example, are up 25 percent, as is electricity, while rents have increased 20 percent.

Americans' views of the economy are dragging Biden's approval numbers. A CNN poll from Wednesday saw Biden's approval rating hit 37 percent, while his disapproval rating was 63 percent, his worst numbers in any poll the outlet has conducted to date. A plurality of respondents in the poll—42 percent—also named the economy as their most important issue, with 71 percent calling economic conditions poor.