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Biden pushes back against poor jobs report numbers

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President Biden and Wall Street investors tried to push past Friday's disappointing report from the Labor Department. It showed the slowest monthly jobs growth yet since Mr. Biden took office. The lackluster news is leading some business groups and Republican governors to make the case to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits. Christina Ruffini reports.

Video Transcript

JEFF GLOR: There are new signs this morning that show the US economy is still struggling from the seismic impact of the global pandemic shutdown. President Biden, and even investors on Wall Street, tried to push past Friday's disappointing report from the Labor Department. It showed the slowest monthly jobs growth yet since Mr. Biden took office. The lackluster news is leading some business groups and Republican governors to make the case to end enhanced federal unemployment benefits that they say are encouraging Americans not to work.

Christina Ruffini is at the White House this morning. Christina, good morning.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Good morning, Jeff. You know, success is rarely a straight line, and neither is economic recovery. At least that's what the White House is arguing on the heels of that disappointing jobs report.

Armed with a mix of economic metaphors--

JANET YELLEN: And the road back is going to be somewhat bumpy.

MARTY WALSH: We have a steep hill to climb.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: --the White House went on the defensive yesterday, after the lowest monthly jobs report since President Biden took office.

JOE BIDEN: We knew this wouldn't be a sprint, it'd be a marathon.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Employers added just 266,000 jobs in April, dramatically less than the million most economists had projected. The unemployment rate ticked slightly up to 6.1%.

JOE BIDEN: The data shows that more-- more workers-- more workers are looking for jobs and many can't find them.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: But Republicans argue the $300 per week federal unemployment benefits are keeping those workers from looking.

MITCH MCCONNELL: They're better off financially to stay home rather than go back to work.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: The US Chamber of Commerce is calling for a repeal of the supplemental payments. And two Republican governors say they plan to block those checks in an effort to boost job numbers.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued unpredictable child care and lingering COVID concerns are more likely culprits.

JANET YELLEN: It's clear that there are people who are not ready and able to go back into the labor force.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: The hospitality industry showed the biggest gains in the April report. But across the country, restaurants like this Oakland eatery are struggling to refill their staff.

MARK LIBERMAN: Everyone I hire, I tell them that you have to wear a lot of hats now. The support team that we used to have prior to the pandemic isn't quite there.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger says, there's a straightforward solution.

JILL SCHLESINGER: If somebody can make more money by being home and collecting unemployment and taking care of their families, that's a smart economic decision. And it may force restaurants and some of the other areas of the economy to really pick up the wages.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Now, during the Great Depression, there was a prominent British economist who argued that the government should pay people to dig holes and fill them back up again. Now, President Biden isn't going that far, but he is pitching his infrastructure bill as a way to fill that jobs gap. Next week, he will meet here at the White House with Republicans, hoping they can find some political bridges and maybe build some actual ones as well. Dana.

DANA JACOBSON: Christina, thank you.