US labor secretary on April jobs miss: ‘We still have a ways to go’
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh provides insight into the April jobs report.
April's disappointing jobs report added more fuel for Republicans Friday in their staunch opposition to President Biden's taxing and spending policies, while Democrats argued the lackluster economic numbers show the urgent need for more federal intervention.
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged that the measly 266,000 new jobs created last month was "disappointing," but she said the antidote is more spending on Biden's $4 trillion spending proposal.
"The disappointing April jobs report highlights the urgent need to pass President Biden’s American Jobs and Families Plans," Pelosi, D-Calif., said of Biden's two proposals. "We need to take bold action to Build Back Better from this crisis by investing in our nation, our workers and our families."
Republicans quickly pounced on the slight uptick in unemployment after Biden's massive round of $1.9 trillion in new coronavirus stimulus as evidence that Democrats are taking the country in the wrong economic direction.
US HIRING SHARPLY MISSES EXPECTATIONS IN APRIL WITH JUST 266,000 NEW JOBS ADDED
"This is the biggest miss in the history of the jobs report, and Biden is to blame," said Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
She cited lingering school shutdowns and Biden's executive orders that halted energy jobs, like the Keystone XL pipeline, for the poor jobs showing. "His policies are a disaster," McDaniel tweeted.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who has been a harsh critic of Biden's moratorium on new oil and gas leases said the jobs report shows "the Biden economy is coming into clear view."
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who is trying to replace Rep. Liz Cheney as the No. 3 GOP leader in the House, pushed back hard on Democrats' vision of trillions more in proposed tax increases and "uncontrolled spending."
"Joe Biden & Nancy Pelosi own today’s horrendous jobs report," Stefanik tweeted. "This is the Biden/Pelosi economy."
Employers added just 266,000 new jobs in April, well short of expectations of a hiring boom that some forecasted would amount to nearly 1 million in job gains. And the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 6.1% from 6% in March.
The numbers showed persistent racial disparities where the Black unemployment rate increased to 9.7% on one end of the spectrum and the White rate fell to 5.3% on the other.
The Biden Administration noted that one bright spot is that the labor force participation is at its highest point since last August – a counterpoint to GOP arguments that generous $1,400 stimulus checks and unemployment benefits are keeping people home.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said that the number of people expressing hesitancy about going back to work because of coronavirus concerns is also at its lowest point in the pandemic.
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"However, the numbers also show we have a steep climb ahead of us," Walsh acknowledged in a statement. "We have yet to recover roughly eight million jobs that existed prior to the pandemic."
Walsh stood by Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan as what will put the economy "on the path to recovery" but noted it's "going to take time and effort to heal this economy."
Republicans, however, said it's unsurprising the unemployment rate would tick up after Democrats extended $300-per-week enhanced federal benefits through Sept. 6. Small business owners have complained that it's hard to find workers because potential employees could be making more staying home.
"Paying people to stay home and NOT work has big bad consequences! Jobs report is a HUGE FAIL!," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga, tweeted.
The jobs report comes as Biden is making a new pitch for more than $4 trillion in new taxes and spending to fund a grand infrastructure plan to rebuild roads, bridges and water systems as well as invest in social service programs like free community college, universal preschool and a new 12-week paid family and medical leave program.
Democrats say the proposed new spending – funded through tax hikes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans – is needed to create good-paying jobs and rebuild the economy.
"[T]he evidence is clear that the economy demands urgent action, and Congress will not be deterred or delayed from delivering transformational investments For The People," Pelosi said.
But Republicans say the jobs numbers indicate that now is the wrong time to be increasing taxes that could slow down the recovery even more.
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"Today’s jobs report is a disappointment—just like President Biden’s plan to burden families with more taxes & more debt," House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted. "While Dems trap people in a cycle of fear & pay them NOT to work, it’s clear the best thing to do is end the crisis-era policies & get Americans back to work."
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