Administration officials acknowledge that many of Mr. Biden’s programs to help hard-hit communities are still in their infancy, and that it may be difficult to assess their effects yet. But Ms. Brainard, in an interview ahead of the speech, said it was fair for Mr. Biden to claim credit for gains in areas like Allentown and Milwaukee.
“In many left-behind communities, unemployment rates have been well above the national average for years,” she said. “And what you’re seeing in those communities now is that unemployment rates have actually moved down below 4 percent, which are, in some cases, a level they haven’t seen in a very long time.”
The unemployment rate in the Allentown area was 3.9 percent in November, according to the Labor Department. That’s down from nearly 9.5 percent after the 2008 financial crisis and 4.2 percent on the eve of the pandemic in February 2020, when Donald J. Trump was president. In November, unemployment was 3.1 percent in the Milwaukee area, the same rate as it was in February 2020, and down from 10 percent after the 2008 recession.
Mr. Trump has long promised on the campaign trail and in the White House to revitalize hard-hit American communities. He is making similar promises as he attempts to defeat Mr. Biden this fall, a counterpoint that looms over the president’s place-based effort.
While Ms. Brainard will not mention Mr. Trump by name, she plans to cast Mr. Biden’s place-based policies as the antidote to what the administration calls the failed promises of “trickle-down economics,” including those practiced by the previous administration. That term has long been associated with Republican tax policies. By cutting rates on high earners and corporations, conservative economists have long contended, policymakers would stoke fast economic growth that would lift incomes for all workers.