President Joe Biden on Friday said there’s still much to be done to get Americans back to work, as the U.S. gained far fewer jobs than expected in April.
“We’re still digging out of an economic collapse that cost us 22 million jobs,” said Biden, speaking from the East Room of the White House. “We’ve got work to do.”
The government said Friday morning that the U.S. created just 266,000 new jobs in April even as the economy gained strength, suggesting companies might be struggling to fill open jobs even with millions of people still unemployed. The official unemployment rate climbed a tick to 6.1% from 6%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
turned higher Friday, after opening in negative territory, and the technology-laden Nasdaq Composite
rose, even as the April jobs report came in far below estimates.
The weakness reflected in the jobs data may support some views that central bankers in the U.S. will keep monetary policy accommodative for an extended period, as MarketWatch reports.
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Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package as well as a $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan,” focused on child care, paid leave and education. If approved by Congress, those proposals would come on top of a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill signed by Biden in March.
Biden on Friday said that the relief measure he signed in March, dubbed the American Rescue Plan, was designed to help the economy over a year. He stressed his infrastructure package and other proposals and said his “laser focus” would be to keep job creation going.
The president rejected criticism that supplemental unemployment insurance is a disincentive to work, saying there was “nothing measurable” in that argument. Meanwhile, as MarketWatch reports, the Republican governors of South Carolina and Montana trace labor shortages employers are facing in their states to federal unemployment benefits and are eliminating them.
Congressional Republicans have balked at the price tags of the new proposals as well as the tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans Biden has floated to pay for them. On infrastructure, GOP lawmakers have said they’d back a smaller package.
Biden has frequently said he is open to negotiations with Republicans on his plans, as well on his proposal to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. On Thursday he suggested he could accept a 25% rate.
Democrats in Congress face a variety of choices about how to proceed on Biden’s plans. They could again use a process called budget reconciliation, allowing them to pass a bill without any Republican votes in the Senate. They could also split Biden’s proposals into separate bills, or aim to pass a single package.