WASHINGTON DC, (Washington Insider Magazine) – The Labor Department reported Friday that U.S. employers added just 266,000 jobs last month, falling far short of expectations — but President Biden sought to put a positive spin on the underwhelming growth and argued Americans must put it in the context of last year’s “economic collapse.”
With vaccinations ramping up and coronavirus restrictions relaxing, most economists had predicted the Labor Department’s April report would outperform the 916,000 new jobs created in March, making the 266,000 figure especially disappointing.
At the same time, the rate of working Americans collecting unemployment benefits ticked up from 6% to 6.1% in April, the report found, suggesting some workers may be staying on jobless aid even though jobs are available.
But Biden pleaded for patience and touted that more than 1.3 million jobs were created in his 100 days in office — an all-time high.
“We’re still digging our way out of an economic collapse that cost us 22 million jobs,” Biden said at the White House, adding that the “economy is moving in the right direction” in that it’s continuing to grow.
The president also said many portions of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan have yet to be implemented and expressed faith that a forthcoming influx of state and local government budgetary relief will put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work in the public sector.
“Today’s report makes clear: Thank goodness we passed the American Rescue Plan. Help is here,” he said.
Republicans countered that the April jobs report proved their claim that the $1.9 trillion plan disincentivizes work because some workers can earn more from collecting the enhanced unemployment benefit provided by the stimulus.
“Today’s disappointing jobs report is a result of the federal government incentivizing people to stay at home,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota. “The solution is to let the economy fully reopen and help connect potential employees with employers.”
On a brighter note, optimism for an economic bounce-back appears high, with the Labor Department reporting an increase in spending on restaurant meals, airline tickets, road trips, new cars and homes, likely a result of Americans receiving $1,400 relief checks and other types of aid from the stimulus.
According to Biden and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, the best way to bolster spending optimism and job growth is for Congress to adopt his sweeping American Jobs and Families Plans, a couple of wide-ranging government spending blueprints with a combined price tag of more than $4 trillion.
“The disappointing April jobs report highlights the urgent need to pass President Biden’s American Jobs and Families plans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “We need to take bold action to build back better from this crisis by investing in our nation, our workers and our families.”
The Democrat-controlled House has already started drafting Biden’s jobs plan, which proposes to inject $2.3 trillion into fixing the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, power grids, transit and a variety of other infrastructure systems, with an adjacent goal of creating millions of new careers in the process. The plan would also overhaul American infrastructure in a way that makes it more climate-friendly.
But the plan’s prospects in the Senate are murkier.
Democrats control the upper chamber by the thinnest possible margin, meaning Biden would need to attract the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass his spending plans the old fashion way.
However, because of rigid Republican opposition, it appears increasingly likely that Biden will urge the Senate to use budgetary reconciliation, a time-consuming, complicated process that would allow the chamber’s 50 Democrats to pass at least one of his plans without GOP support, as long as they can keep their own members in line.