Home / Government / Articles / State of the Union 2024: The data behind Biden’s address

President Joe Biden addressed Congress and the nation with the annual State of the Union address on Thursday, March 7. The president, who is campaigning for a second term, focused on foreign aid and commitments to democracy, access to abortion, domestic manufacturing, capping prescription drug costs, border security and much more.

Seated behind Biden were Vice President Kamala Harris and, for the first time, Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, who assumed the office in October of 2023. Johnson is the third House leader to invite Biden to address the nation in as many years.

USAFacts has collected data points from our articles and State of the Union in Numbers report for context behind Biden’s address.

Global conflicts

The president raised issues of foreign affairs that have involved the US defense and foreign aid spending for most of his presidency.


Biden emphasized American support for Ukraine in two-years-long fight against Russia. Since February 2022, the US has allocated $113.4 billion in emergency funding to support Ukraine, American partners affected by the conflict, and US national security programs. More than $44 billion of this funding went to security assistance to Ukraine, primarily through presidential drawdowns and the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. Security assistance comes in the form of equipment and weaponry.

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An additional $23 billion in funding went towards humanitarian and economic assistance to support the Ukraine economy and sustain humanitarian aid to those displaced by the conflict.

On February 13, the Senate approved the 2024 National Security Act. If enacted, it will allocate approximately $60 billion for Ukraine initiatives, nearly $30 billion of which will go toward additional security assistance.


Biden also talked about his foreign policy plans for Gaza, announcing that the military will build a floating pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip to enable ships to deliver humanitarian assistance, including food, water, medical supplies, and temporary housing.

Last week, President Biden initiated humanitarian aid airdrops into Gaza. The Department of Defense has since completed three airdrops, delivering 192 bundles with 112,896 meals, including the March 7 operation in northern Gaza.

So far, US aid to Gaza and the West Bank totaled $12.1 billion from 1988 to 2023, nearly all of which came in economic and humanitarian aid.


Israel is the top recipient of American foreign aid since WWII. Adjusted for inflation, US aid to Israel totaled $338.8 billion from 1951 to 2023, 71.1% of which was in military aid.

If enacted, the 2024 National Security Act could provide $14.1 billion in aid to Israel, including $4.4 billion for Gaza war expenses and $4 billion for the Iron Dome & David’s Sling defense systems.

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Biden shared the story of Kate Cox, a guest of First Lady Jill Biden. Cox sued the state of Texas to prevent enforcement of the state’s ban on abortions after doctors discovered that her fetus had a genetic condition that causes severe developmental problems. Cox ultimately traveled outside Texas to get an abortion. The president condemned the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and called for increased access to abortion nationwide. He vowed to restore federal protections for abortion in a second term.

Seventeen states have abortion bans regardless of gestational age, with another 12 holding bans at certain gestational ages.

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In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 625,978 abortions from 46 states and Washington, DC. This was roughly one abortion for every five live births. Reported abortions dropped 10.5% from 2012 to 2021.


Biden described a soft landing from the pandemic economy in his address, referencing low inflation rates, low unemployment, and growing number of available jobs.

Job openings

The ratio of unemployed people to job openings hit a record low in 2022 but trended upward in 2023. The 2023 average of 0.64 unemployed people per opening was 0.11 higher than the year before. The unemployment rate was 3.4% at the beginning of 2023 and 3.7% by the end.

The nation had 9.03 million job openings in December 2023, according to preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

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Inflation hit a 40-year high in 2022. The annual rate fell from 8.0% in 2022 to 4.1% in 2023 as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

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Biden mentioned that since he came to office, GDP has gone up. It’s true that real GDP has risen in each year of Biden’s presidency.

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Minimum wage

Biden also mentioned raising the federal minimum wage, saying “every worker has the right to earn a decent living.”

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Taxes on corporations and billionaires

Biden also called for higher tax rates on corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act introduced a corporate alternative minimum tax, imposing a 15% minimum tax on all corporations that made $1 billion in average annual earnings over the past three years. When enacted, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that about 150 corporations would be subject to the minimum tax each year, and that it will result in a gain of $222 billion over 10 years. In his speech, Biden pressed raising that tax to at least 21%.

He also suggested raising taxes on billionaires to a minimum of 25%, which he said would raise $500 billion over the next 10 years.


The president covered immigration, including the status of the southern border and immigration timelines.

The southern border

Biden addressed border concerns, which have been a major talking point leading up to the election. He alluded to a border bill the House recently declined to take up, one with provisions to hire new border patrol officers and judges to handle the influx of immigrants attempting to enter the country.

Between October 2019 and January 2024, the US had over 9.8 million border encounters nationwide. That’s roughly equivalent to the current population of Michigan, the 10th most populous state.

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The higher number of border encounters may be attributable to high apprehension rates, meaning that border patrol operations are working more efficiently, preventing a higher percentage of people from entering the country without authorization.

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Visa applications

The State Department noted a backlog of 4.08 million visa applications awaiting processing as of November 1, 2022. Median wait times were rising for all types family-based immigration, which constitute about 96% of immigration cases.

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Biden proposed a $400 monthly tax credit for the next two years to support first-time homebuyers and people seeking more space. Additionally, he mentioned tax credits to help alleviate costs for homeowners, 23% of whom were classified as “house-burdened” in 2022, meaning they spent more than 30% of their income on housing.

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Biden pointed out the high cost of prescription drugs and outlined a vision for capping insulin costs at $35 a month. He detailed a plan for expanding Medicare’s drug pricing negotiation program to 500 drugs over the next decade, which Biden said would save taxpayers $200 billion dollars a year.

In 2022, over 10% of Americans skipped prescription medicine as part of medical treatment due to cost.

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The president also expressed a desire to lower the cost of healthcare for individuals. Between private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and personal out-of-pocket costs, America spent $3.7 trillion on personal healthcare in 2022, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

National personal healthcare spending has increased by more than $3 trillion, up 1,629%, in the past 40 years

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Biden also announced the launch of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research citing underfunding for women’s health.


President Biden addressed education, citing the need for quality education in order to have the strongest economy in the world.

Student debt

President Biden also addressed college affordability. In January 2023, college tuition and fees had increased 4.7% since February 2020. In 2022, average student debt was about $36,000 per person, and around 43 million people owed federal student loans.

Researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimated that forgiving loans at a rate of $10,000 per person would cancel approximately $321 billion in student debt.

Seventy-five percent of borrowers owe less than $40,000 of student loan debt.

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Teacher pay

Biden spoke to increasing wages for schoolteachers, for whom the average salary was $66,397 for K-12 teachers in 2021–22 school year.

Teachers typically need to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree to work as a K-12 educator. Nationwide, more than half of teachers also have a master’s degree. In 48 states and Washington, DC, teachers generally earn less than the average salary for other workers with a bachelor's or master’s degree.

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Here’s a roundup of even more data behind the topics covered in President Biden’s speech:

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  • Biden referred to NATO as the strongest military alliance the world has ever seen, welcoming new members Finland and Sweden. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Hjalmar Kristersson was in attendance as a guest of Jill Biden.
  • Jazmin Cazares, an advocate for gun control whose sister was killed during the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting, was a guest at the speech. School shootings increased by 124% from the 2020–21 to 2021–22 school years.
  • Biden touted America’s small businesses, calling each one “an act of hope.” Here’s more on the role small businesses play in the economy.
  • The president called upon Congress to restore child tax credits, which expired at the end of December 2022.

Following Biden’s address, Alabama junior senator Katie Britt gave the customary response, representing the Republican party.

Find much more data on common State of the Union issues in our by-the-numbers report, and get the data straight to your inbox by signing up for our weekly newsletter.