Biden: 'No question' delta variant caused weaker-than-expected jobs report

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden attributed Friday’s weaker-than-expected jobs report on the delta variant that has caused coronavirus cases to surge across the country.

“There's no question that the delta variant is why today's job report isn't stronger. I know people were looking — and I was hoping for a higher number,” Biden said in remarks at the White House before leaving to tour the damage left by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana.

He added, “Even with the progress we've made, we're not where we need to be in our economic recovery.”

Friday's report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 235,000 jobs were added in August, much less than the 720,000 predicted by economists. The unemployment rate also fell to 5.2 percent from 5.4 percent.

Biden said he plans to lay out steps next week for his administration to take to try to further stimulate the economy. More needs to be done to encourage people to get vaccinated against Covid, he said.

“This is a continuing pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said. “Since becoming president, I've ramped up testing, secured enough vaccines for every single American and gotten 175 million Americans fully vaccinated. Still, too many have not gotten vaccinated and it's creating a lot of unease in our economy and around our kitchen tables.”

The president also said that Congress must pass his infrastructure plan, which he said would create millions of good-paying jobs, and the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that would implement his Build Back Better social agenda. Democrats face an uphill climb to pass both pieces of legislation because of divisions between moderates and progressives.

“We're going to deliver these investments without raising taxes one cent on anyone making less than $400,000 a year,” said Biden, who reiterated his goal of raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires.

"Wealthy people aren't paying the taxes they owe," Biden said. “We’re going to change that.”