Biden Addresses Weak Jobs Report, Announces Initiatives to Boost Employment
President Biden made remarks on the state of the job market after April’s job report missed expected added jobs by over 650,000, adding just 266,000 instead of the 1 million projected by Dow Jones, CNBC reported.
In televised remarks Monday afternoon, Biden attempted to ease fears that economic recovery had come to a halt, adding context to the jobs report and giving more information as to how the stimulus bill is helping still-ailing areas of the economy.
“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. Remember, 22 million Americans lost their jobs in this pandemic. 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,” Biden said.
He then went on to reference the jobs report directly, adding that vaccination rates have significantly increased since data for the jobs report was collected, suggesting more Americans will be able to go back to work in the coming months.
“These monthly reports are a snapshot … They take one week, a moment in time. Since this snapshot was taken around the week of April the 12th, COVID-19 counts are down by more than 40% … Vaccination rates among working-age Americans [have] roughly doubled since then. This survey was taken before adults — before every adult was eligible to be vaccinated. So, back then, 18% of working age adults were fully vaccinated. Today, if it were taken, 34% are fully vaccinated.”
Biden outlined five initiatives the government would be implementing as early as this week as part of the American Rescue Plan to stimulate and sustain job growth:
- Open portal for state and local government assistance: The portal opened Monday for state and local governments to apply for their first set of funds from the American Rescue Plan. Biden noted that tax revenue fell during the crisis. As a result, 1.3 million state and local government employees were out of work. Biden claimed the money that will be distributed will allow for more teachers, first responders and sanitation workers to go back to work.
- Provide assistance to restaurants and bars: Biden stated, “Today, we’re sending out the first relief checks to 16,000 hard-hit restaurants with help for many more to follow. A lot more people are going to be employed.”
- Expansion of Employment Retention Tax Credit: Biden said under the ARP, the Employee Retention Tax Credit will be expanded. This provides a direct tax credit for each worker an employer keeps or rehires. Biden added that employers can hire back their employees part-time, without those employees having to give up their unemployment benefits.
- Provide help with child care: Biden stated that 150,000 fewer child care jobs exist now than pre-pandemic. He claimed that states have been allocated funds for child care already, and on Monday the administration released guidance to states “to help get the funds they need out the door as quickly as possible.” Funds will also provide child care subsidies to parents to help them return to work.
- Unemployed workers must accept suitable job: Anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose unemployment benefits. Biden said the administration has not seen much evidence that generous unemployment benefits have been a major factor in labor shortages, noting that overall, the United States still has 8 million fewer jobs now than when the pandemic started.
Biden added that despite the lagging April jobs report, economic recovery is on the right track. “Because of the American Rescue Plan, forecasters are projecting we’ll see the fastest economic growth in 40 years in the months to come. We’re moving in the right direction.”
Republicans have been critical of the president’s policies, warning that the $300 weekly payments the unemployed receive on top of their state benefits has swayed many from returning to work, The New York Times reported. And more generally, Republicans say the size of the American Rescue Plan risks triggering runaway inflation, which could hamper recovery.
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