President Biden urged companies to raise pay for their employees and improve access to vaccines on Monday during remarks from the White House after the release of the newest jobs report.
Just 266,000 new jobs were added in April, falling about 730,000 jobs short of expected growth and causing concern about the robustness of the economic recovery. During his speech, Biden attributed much of this to lags in vaccination access and employers not yet having enough resources.
The president put the onus on employers who have accepted federal relief to offer good pay, protect workers from the virus and encourage vaccination so Americans feel comfortable taking jobs. “My expectation is that as our economy comes back, these companies will provide fair wages and safe work environments. And if they do, they’ll find plenty of workers and we’re all going to come out of this together better than before,” Biden said.
The White House also announced that it has launched a Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a program to aid restaurants, bars, food trucks and other food and drink establishments. “These grants will give restaurants and bars the flexibility to hire back workers at good wages,” the fact sheet noted.
The White House also stressed that workers currently receiving unemployment benefits would lose them should they refuse the offer of a suitable job due to general, non-specific COVID-19 concerns. “A core purpose of the UI program is helping workers get back to work, and UI provides laid-off workers with temporary assistance to help pay bills and relieve hardship. By reaffirming these rules and purposes, the Administration will ensure that the UI program continues to support workers and facilitate hiring.”
Enhanced unemployment benefits have come under fire from Republicans who say they amount to paying people not to work. A number of Republican-led states have announced that they’ll opt out of the increased benefits starting next month, according to CBS News. And some states, including Arizona and Vermont, have reinstated work-search requirements for unemployment recipients. Those requirements were waived as part of the initial unemployment expansion under the Trump administration.
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