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April jobs numbers came in below expectations Friday as President Biden continues to promote legislation the White House says would create millions of jobs repairing the nation’s infrastructure.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported just 266,000 new jobs over the month of April after some experts expected potentially a million. Unemployment also rose slightly, to 6.1 percent from 6.0 percent. The report also had worse news for March numbers, which saw a revision down to 777,000 from the original 916,000 increase reported last month. Payroll positions are still 8 million below the pre-pandemic levels of February 2020.
Biden has been touting the record number of jobs created in the initial months of a presidency, and while much of the country is reopening, many areas are still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The United States reported more than 70,000 new cases and hundreds of deaths per day in mid-April.
The president addressed the numbers in a statement at the White House Friday.
“Listening to commentators today as I was getting dressed you might think we should be disappointed,” Biden said of the numbers with a laugh, “but when we passed the American Rescue Plan I want to remind everybody it was designed to help us over the course of a year, not 60 days, a year. We never thought over the first 50 or 60 days everything would be fine.”
"Today there is more evidence our economy is moving in the right direction but it is clear we have a long way to go," Biden said, adding, "To state the obvious, we have work to do."
The president continued to lobby hard for his American Jobs Plan, a $2 trillion legislative package he hopes would put Americans to work at everything from repairing roads and bridges to overhauling the country’s electrical grid and expanding broadband internet. Biden focused on the proposal during his joint address to Congress last week.
“Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created by the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree,” Biden said. “Seventy-five percent don’t require an associate’s degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America, that’s what it is.”
Biden continued promoting the package Thursday in Lake Charles, La., tying the plan to the push to fight climate change, saying, “When I think about the threats of hurricanes and global warming and then the poor condition of our economy as it relates particularly to infrastructure, I think of one thing: I think of jobs. Jobs. Jobs.”
As negotiations over the infrastructure bill continue, the White House has invited Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia to discuss the bill. Biden said he’s willing to work with Republicans on the legislation, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday 100 percent of his focus is on “stopping” Biden.
Democrats could still use the process of reconciliation to pass the bill with 50 Senate votes if they can get every member of their caucus on board. According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll taken last month, every key component of Biden’s plan received majority support from Americans.
Some Republicans have been blaming the expanded federal unemployment insurance payments of $300 per week, the equivalent of a $15,600 annual salary, for some businesses being unable to fill positions. On Thursday, South Carolina announced it would be withdrawing from the program, one day after Montana’s Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said his state would be doing the same by June 27.
In a letter to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster wrote, “What was intended to be a short-term financial assistance for the vulnerable and displaced during the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal entitlement, incentivizing and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace.”
However, in the latest jobs report the labor participation rate — the percentage of people working or looking for work — ticked up slightly from March, and reports have noted businesses having success hiring new workers when they offered higher wages.
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