“It’s clear we have a long way to go,” Biden announced at the White House on Friday. “We’re still digging out of an economic collapse that cost us 22 million jobs.”
He explained that money is still being distributed from a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan he signed in March. “Today’s report just underscores my view of how vital the actions we’re taking are,” he stated.
The weak data may give a lift to Biden’s $6 trillion economic agenda by blunting arguments that the stimulus legislation he signed in March, combined with his offered expenditures for infrastructure and social programs, would drive crippling inflation.
The fate of Biden’s economic policies rests with the almost divided Congress. Passing his offered $4 trillion worth of long-term spending increases and tax credits, spanning infrastructure to social programs including child care and education, will depend on where lawmakers can find compromise.
The jobs report provides Biden a new case as he attempts support from voters and lawmakers. Employers added 266,000 jobs last month and the jobless rate edged up to 6.1%, the Labor Department announced, compared with forecasts for a 1 million increase in payrolls and a decline in unemployment.
Republicans in Congress have balked at the scope and size of the proposals. Democrats have been less united on the overall size of the proposals than they were in supporting Biden’s virus aid package. The new spending plans could be discussed by Congress well into the fall or even 2022.
Republicans and companies seized on the jobs numbers to blame the extra $300 weekly unemployment benefits extended in March -- which run through September -- as barring workers from filling job openings. Biden announced there has been “nothing measurable” from the benefits’ impact on job growth.
Biden has opened the door to negotiation and implied he could support a lower rise in the corporate tax rate than he had originally floated.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told Bloomberg Television in an interview that under normal circumstances, Friday’s jobs numbers would have indicated a “great month.” But he conceded: “We still have a steep climb, we still have a ways to go.”
Some economists have raised anxiety that Biden’s programs could overheat the economy.
Businesses have further scrutinized the enhanced unemployment-insurance benefits in the relief bill as keeping workers at home and making it tougher for firms to fill vacant positions. It’s an argument Republicans have embraced, though economists have questioned how strong that dynamic is.