President Biden on Monday continued to downplay the disappointing April jobs growth, painting a cheerful overall picture to the American people regarding the nation’s economic recovery in claiming that the economy was moving in the “right direction” but refuse to admit the reported figures were a direct result from the extended federal weekly unemployment insurance benefits were undermine efforts, saying that he doesn’t “see much evidence.”
“There’s been a lot of discussion since Friday’s report that people are being paid to stay home rather than go to work. Well, we don’t see much evidence of that. That is a major factor — we don’t see that,” Biden said. “Look, it’s easy to say — the line has been, because of the generous unemployment benefits, that it’s a major factor in labor shortages.”
The April jobs report released Friday morning showed the U.S economy added only 266,000 jobs — far below Wall Street economists’ expectations of the one million figure predicted as the economy rebounds from the COVID pandemic with the unemployment rate rose slightly from 6 percent to now 6.1 percent. The lackluster report shows that the extended pandemic government unemployment benefits were a key factor holding those back from actively seeking jobs.
Despite businesses across the nation saying otherwise, who argued that it has become harder to find new workers willing to return due to many benefiting from collecting unemployment benefits by staying home, Biden rejected the notion, blaming vaccine hesitancy for what he claims hindered the economy recovery and that the rebound from recession remained on track.
“This survey was taken before adults — before every adult was eligible to be vaccinated. So, back then, 18 percent of working-age adults were fully vaccinated. Today, if it were taken, 34 percent are fully vaccinated,” Biden said.
“Let me be clear — Our economic plan is working. I never said — and no serious analyst ever suggested that climbing out of the deep, deep hole our economy was in would be simple, easy, immediate, or perfectly steady,” Biden added. “So, some months will exceed expectations; others will fall short. The question is, ‘What is the trendline? Are we headed in the right direction? Are we taking the right steps to keep it going?’ And the answer, clearly, is yes.”
During his remarks, he announced that he will order his Labor Department will begin enforcing the return to pre-pandemic job requirements, asserting that unemployed Americans cannot turn down a “suitable” job when offered or they would lose access to unemployment benefits.
“The law is clear: if you’re receiving unemployment benefits and you’re offered a suitable job, you can’t refuse that job and just keep getting the unemployment benefits,” Biden said. “No one should be allowed to game the system, and we will insist that the law is followed.”
Twenty-nine states have already reinstated them, and the Labor Department will “work with the remaining states, as health and safety conditions allow, to put in place appropriate work search requirements as the economy continues to rebound, vaccinations increase, and the pandemic is brought under control,” White House officials fact sheet stated.
Biden didn’t say how exactly how the Labor Department’s current rules would strictly enforce or how they would work with states to reinstate work search requirements.
He also defended his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure enacted in March while pushing his proposed $4 trillion infrastructure proposals, saying the April jobs report signifies the importance of legislative efforts by Democrats. Biden pointed to new guidance issued by the Treasury Department that will help state and local governments gain access to the more than $350 billion of relief funds from his American Rescue Plan, where he claimed the money would speed up hiring and economic growth.
Biden made the remarks shortly after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also disputed claims that the federal benefits discouraged unemployed workers more not to work by paying them more staying at home as the cause of disappointing job numbers released last week.
“We don’t see evidence that extra unemployment insurance is a major driver in people not rejoining the workforce,” Psaki said.
The U.S Chamber of Commerce blamed the $300 weekly federal stimulus that contributed to the tepid job growth. and called on the Biden administration to end it before it’s set to expire on September 6.
“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work is dampening what should be a stronger jobs market,” Chamber’s chief policy officer Neil Bradley said in a statement. “Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working. One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit.”