President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks about the April jobs report in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC (Picture: Getty Images)
President Joe Biden downplayed a disappointing April jobs report that revealed the US fell woefully short of the 1million jobs that were projected to be added.
The jobs report showed that only 266,000 jobs were added last month, while many economists expected the growth to be close to 1million. In addition, the unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.1%, according to the Department of Labor.
Speaking from the White House on Friday afternoon, Biden countered analyses around the growth slowdown. The president also said the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9trillion economic stimulus bill passed in March that he signed into law, is necessary to continue the country’s recovery.
‘Quite frankly, we’re moving more rapidly than I thought,’ Biden said.
The president continued: ‘Listening to commentators today as I was getting dressed, you might think that we should be disappointed, but when we passed the American Rescue Plan, it was designed to help us over the course of a year, not 60 days – a year. We never thought that after 50 to 60 days that we would be fine.’
Biden said that Friday demonstrated ‘more evidence that our economy is moving in the right direction’ and that his administration has added more jobs than prior administrations. He then pushed the American Rescue Plan, which has funded stimulus checks of up to $1,400, food and rental assistance.
‘Some critics said that we didn’t need the American Rescue Plan, that the economy would just heal itself,’ said Biden, adding that ‘today’s report just underscores my view of how vital’ it is.
But Republicans are blaming the lackluster job growth on Biden’s coronavirus relief benefits including enhanced $300 weekly unemployment payments, saying they disincentive Americans from returning to work.
‘We have flooded the zone with checks that I’m sure everybody loves to get, and also enhanced unemployment,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said on Thursday. ‘And what I hear from businesspeople, hospitals, educators, everybody across the state all week is, regretfully, it’s actually more lucrative for many Kentuckians and Americans to not work than work.’
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted similar sentiments on Friday.
‘Why is anyone surprised that the jobs reports fell short of expectations?’ Rubio wrote. ‘I told you weeks ago that in Florida I hear from small business everyday that they can’t hire people because the government is paying them to not go back to work.’
Asked by a reporter on Friday if there is evidence that enhanced unemployment benefits are discouraging Americans from working, Biden said: ‘No, nothing measurable.’
Biden said the jobs report was a ‘rebuttal’ showing that ‘there’s a much bigger problem’ than the commentary around it.
‘The data shows that more workers are looking for jobs and many can’t find them,’ the president said.
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