President Joe Biden was forced to address the dismal April jobs report on Friday after economists predicted larger growth, and he claimed the disappointing jobs gain was a “rebuttal” to the idea that Americans don’t want to return to work.
“Today’s report is a rebuttal to loose talk that Americans just don’t want to work,” Mr Biden said.
“I know some employers are having trouble filling jobs, but this report shows there’s a much bigger problem,” he added.
The US economy gained just 266,000 jobs in April, which was a surprise given economists predicted the country would see around 1 million new jobs for the next couple months due to more industries reopening.
This was the slowest month of growth since January, and comes on the heels of March adding 770,000 jobs.
“We’re still digging out of an economic collapse,” Mr Biden said. “The economy still has 8 million fewer jobs than when this pandemic started. More workers are looking for jobs and many can’t find them. While jobs are coming back, there are still millions who are looking for work.”
About 22 million jobs were lost when the pandemic hit in March 2020. The US has since recovered 63 per cent of those jobs, but there were still an estimated 8.3 million jobs to go.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican politicians have argued that the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which passed through Congress without a single GOP senator's support, was to blame for some Americans not returning to work amid the pandemic. Included in the package were stimulus checks and increased unemployment benefits.
Mr Biden acknowledged this perspective but when asked if enhanced unemployment benefits impacted the jobs numbers, he said: “No, nothing measurable.”
The main argument from the Biden administration was that the jobs report showed how much the nation needed the American Rescue Plan.
“Today’s report makes clear: Thank goodness we passed the American Rescue Plan. Help is here, and more help is on the way, and more help is needed,” Mr Biden said, adding that the plan was created to stimulate the economy for the entire year, not just the first 60 days.
“We knew this wouldn’t be a sprint, it would be a marathon. Quite frankly, we are moving more quickly than I thought we would,” he added.
The president also argued the jobs report proved why his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan should pass through Congress, but it remained unlikely he will be able to garner support for the bill from Republican lawmakers.