Americans not being ‘paid to stay home’ -Biden

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“Our economic plan is working.”

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday defended his strategy to grow the U.S. economy after a disappointing jobs report released last week triggered a flood of Republican criticism that Americans are choosing to stay at home – rather than seek new work - because unemployment benefits are too generous.

“Americans want to work.”

Biden hit back at critics Monday, noting that since he took office, the U.S. had created most jobs in the first 100 days of “any U.S. president on record.”

Biden refuted the notion that unemployment insurance is a driving factor behind an apparent labor shortage and said unemployed Americans can’t continue to collect insurance checks if they’re offered a suitable job.

“We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment who is offered a suitable job must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits. There are a few COVID-19 related exceptions, so that people aren’t forced to choose between their basic safety and a paycheck but, otherwise, that’s the law. I know 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.”

Biden also said he is directing the U.S. Labor Department to work with states to reinstate requirements that those receiving unemployment benefits must demonstrate they are actively looking for work.

Republican lawmakers blamed a report last week showing weak job growth on the Democratic president's decision to offer expanded unemployment benefits through August as part of his stimulus plan.

Some Republican governors have scrapped the added benefits, directing the additional dollars elsewhere.

Democrats say other factors are contributing to the problem - including childcare issues and fear. To address that, Biden said the next phase of getting people back to work will place special emphasis on childcare, reopening schools safely, and incentivizing employers to get their staff vaccinated so Americans can have the confidence to go back to work safely.