CHICAGO (WLS) -- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was in Chicago Thursday to lay out her vision for helping middle-class families overcome affordability challenges.
Yellen gave a speech at the Chicago Economic Club. She talked about how the economy is recovering and what the Biden Administration is planning to do to help the middle class.
Before her speech, Yellen was joined by Governor JB Pritzker for breakfast in the morning before her speech. The two met at Sweet Maple on Taylor Street in Little Italy.
A common observation made by some Democrats, Republicans and independents was that the speech seemed very political, much more so than a usual economic address from the secretary. They said it seemed like a Biden campaign speech.
Yellen made the case for the Biden administration that the economy is recovering post-pandemic, even if it may not seem that way to the consumer.
"Put simply, it's been the fairest recovery on record," Yellen said.
Yellen spoke about inflation starting to ease, with gas prices down nearly $2 from their high in 2022. She noted that mortgage rates continue to decline. But, for many people, the price of groceries remains high.
"Though some forecasters thought a recession last year was inevitable, President Biden and I did not," Yellen said. "The economy has continued to grow."
Yellen talked about Biden's plan to help the middle class, and noted the administration's commitment to investing in infrastructure.
"In the Trump administration the idea of doing anything to fix it was a punch line," Yellen said.
In an election year, the Biden administration seems to be struggling to get it's economic message out.
A staffer at a bakery in Little Italy said she does not feel things are getting better.
"Everything is really high gas, bakery products, everything," said Carreion Blacher at Scafuri Bakery. "So everything is like we're not getting paid much right now. It's like a lot of stuff is going on the back burner because we don't have enough funds to do what we need to do."
Governor Pritzker was asked if the Biden Administration needs to do a better job to address the public perception and reality gap in this election year.
"I think the economy is turning around that perception," Pritzker said. "It isn't up to the Biden campaign to drill it into people. When people start to feel the economy is better, they feel better about the incumbent."
Yellen responded to the concerns about her speech seeming like a Biden campaign speech.
"Explaining to the American people what the economic strategy is, to me, is a priority, and it's appropriate three years into an administration," Yellen said.