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Tough U.S. jobs report shows Biden's rocky road to full economic recovery

EconomyMay 07, 2021 08:43PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Council of Economic Advisers member Jared Bernstein speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 5, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque      2/2

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden reacted on Friday to a disappointing April jobs report by saying the U.S. economy has a "long way to go" before recovering from its pandemic slump, and he urged Washington to do more to help the American people.

U.S. job growth unexpectedly slowed last month, likely restrained by shortages of workers and raw materials. Nonfarm payrolls increased by only 266,000 jobs, well below the nearly 1 million jobs economists expected and a sharp contrast to steady increases in growth from January to March.

Biden and his team have said his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, the Democratic president's first major legislative accomplishment, is helping to bring the economy back from its pandemic plummet, and they are pushing for another $4 trillion in new investments.

"Today's report just underscores in my view how vital the actions we're taking are," Biden said in remarks at the White House. "Our efforts are starting to work. But the climb is steep and we still have a long way to go."

Stock indexes still climbed to record highs despite the news, as fewer investors feared the Federal Reserve would reduce its massive stimulus program anytime soon, and bet Biden's investment plans would succeed.

The jobs report highlighted an intractable political divide in Washington over government spending. Republicans and business groups blasted generous unemployment benefits in the relief package, contending they were stopping lower-wage Americans from going back to work. Critics object to the high price tag of Biden's plans and warn they could bring inflation.

Biden said he did not believe government benefits were hindering a return to work, and his economists backed him up.

"It's clear that there are people who are not ready and able to go back into the labor force," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters, citing parents whose children are still learning remotely. "I don’t think the addition to unemployment compensation is really the factor that is making a difference.”

Jared Bernstein, a member of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, told Reuters that Biden's COVID relief and stimulus, known as the American Rescue Plan, had helped generate an average of more than half a million jobs per month, April not withstanding.

"Those are big numbers, and the fingerprints of the American Rescue Plan are all over those additions," he said.

Bernstein and other officials said no course correction is required from the White House. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business lobby said the government should end the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefits to ease a labor shortage.

Some states, including Arkansas, Montana and South Carolina, have decided on their own to end the special federal unemployment payments for their residents, refusing federal cash in the hope that helps businesses find workers faster.

"Why is anyone surprised that the jobs reports fell short of expectations?," said Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on Twitter. "I told you weeks ago that in #Florida I hear from #smallbusiness everyday that they can’t hire people because the government is paying them to not go back to work

The share of Americans who are either working or looking for work rose last month, and the number of people who said they are not looking for jobs because of COVID-19 fell by 900,000 in April, Bernstein said.

"What we do see is a lot of people who are still hesitant to go back to work because of safety concerns, care issues, schooling issues, and we'll continue to watch this very closely," he said.

(This story corrects language in tweet by Rubio to "paying them" instead of "having them" in paragraph 12)

Tough U.S. jobs report shows Biden's rocky road to full economic recovery
 

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Comments (24)
Adam Paine
Adam Paine May 09, 2021 11:41PM ET
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the fact that institutional $ rejoices at a lagging economy because it guarantees continued "quantative easing" makes me sick. how messed up is that???
MK MK
MK MK May 08, 2021 7:11AM ET
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Tell me more about mythical strength of US economy :)Lazy bustards yankies, go back to work!
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo May 08, 2021 6:41AM ET
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Looks like the USA stock market is running on hot air and should logically deflate rather sooner than later. COVID is not going away and those resisting the containment measures are at fault for continuing the misery.
Adam Paine
Adam Paine May 08, 2021 6:41AM ET
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the stock market is hoping for Covid to get worse. It justifies quantative easing. sick
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo May 08, 2021 6:37AM ET
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The death toll in America would be worse if Donald Trump were to continue in politics. Read what's going on in Thailand a neighbor of China: Thailand: Despite being the first country to report a Covid-19 case outside of China in January last year, Thailand kept its infection numbers low in 2020 thanks to successful containment measures. This year, however, it is facing a much bigger challenge. After containing a second wave that started last December, Thailand is struggling to curb the third wave of infections that has pushed daily caseloads and death tolls to unprecedented levels. Before the start of the latest wave, Thailand had reported 28,863 cases by March 31. In five weeks, that number has more than doubled to surpass 76,000. On Friday alone, it reported 1,911 new cases. The ongoing outbreak has been traced to a number of nightlife venues in Bangkok.
Samantha Sa
Samantha Sa May 08, 2021 2:24AM ET
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Re. Republicans and business groups blasted generous unemployment benefits in the relief package, contending they were stopping lower-wage Americans from going back to work. - The same people who refuse to raise the minimum wage.
Samantha Sa
Samantha Sa May 08, 2021 2:24AM ET
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More than 50% of minimum wage workers pre-COVID were women working two to three jobs. Know it all commentators call them lazy and are eager to force them back to work without provisions for day care centers due to many having shut down or have reduced hours and enrollment.
Samantha Sa
Samantha Sa May 08, 2021 2:24AM ET
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The relief package was flawed. I saw all kinds of wrongs with it from the start. If however you are benefiting from the monthly125B that Powell's inflationary policy driving up the value of your home and portfolio, then at least recognize COVID unemployment benefits are small in comparison.
Steve Lora
Steve Lora May 08, 2021 12:10AM ET
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He printed mail-in ballots so print some cash
perplexed76 .
perplexed76 . May 07, 2021 11:43PM ET
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assosiation of market gamblers will give Biden an ultimatum for new stimulus.
David David
David9 May 07, 2021 7:45PM ET
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$4T more printing... let's go... make it rain, no more need to work.
Steve Bucher
Steve Bucher May 07, 2021 6:45PM ET
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He is determined to bankrupt the US economy.
milena villa escobar
milena villa escobar May 07, 2021 6:40PM ET
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Booooooring
Mark Stallone
Mark Stallone May 07, 2021 4:24PM ET
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It's obvious what the Democrats are doing. Stifle the economy (by keeping people home with large unemployment checks) until you get your massive pet project bill passed. Then, remove the unemployment insentive, and take credit for the booming economy (that actually never went away). You got to give it to Democrats. They're not dumb. Sadistic, but not dumb.
Mark Stallone
Mark Stallone May 07, 2021 4:24PM ET
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The problem they'll face, though, is that we are way overdue for a recession. And with this massive tax increase that's coming, you can bet 2022 and 2023 are not going to be good years.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline May 07, 2021 3:24PM ET
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Joshua...the stock market is rising because of confidence in the American economy by foreign investors. world money flows into our markets has been on going and has increase since the election. World confidence in America's economy is increasing not decreasing. the Biden Administration's policies have dramatically created a positive change, in how the world sees America.
Millennial Dip Buyer
Millennial Dip Buyer May 07, 2021 3:24PM ET
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It's quite literally due to record-low interest rates and printed money.  The stock market has never been more detached from reality, even as recovery starts.
ZS Beck
ZS Beck May 07, 2021 3:18PM ET
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Let's extend unemployment benefit for another year....Oh, wait. Why is the job report still not ok? I wonder .Wait till September, than you will see a 2% decrease right away.Who wants to work these days? No rent, easy money from the government.Good job Joe.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline May 07, 2021 3:18PM ET
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oh brother ....Russian go home. you can't be An American with that old, tired, fake argument.
Millennial Dip Buyer
Millennial Dip Buyer May 07, 2021 3:18PM ET
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Ad Cline After having seen your comments on other posts calling anyone that disagrees with you a "russian bot", you are aware that foreign intelligence agencies play both sides of the political spectrum to create internal strife in the US, right?  Not just one side or another.
Charles Norton
Charles Norton May 07, 2021 1:34PM ET
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Title correction: Jobs report shows Biden is creating a welfare state.
Ad Cline
Ad Cline May 07, 2021 1:34PM ET
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so your not interested. in protecting the interests of American workers. a safety net for your citizens is keynote of a successful economic system.
Mark Stallone
Mark Stallone May 07, 2021 1:31PM ET
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Relax. Weak job numbers are all part of Building Back "Better".
St Af
St Af May 07, 2021 1:28PM ET
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Biden is now working for The Party and the 2022 elections. Right now.... Congress governs the economy. Let's keep Biden on affairs among heads of states.
MK MK
MK MK May 07, 2021 1:26PM ET
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Lazy bustards yankies do not want to work, just more "stimulus". Sell USD to the ground
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey May 07, 2021 1:11PM ET
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Translation for Biden: "I want to use this an excuse to throw $5T more at things that have nothing to do with the bill at hand"
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey May 07, 2021 1:11PM ET
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Stop paying people double their salary to not work: jobs will fill up.
Connecticut Yankee
A_Jaundiced_Eye May 07, 2021 12:22PM ET
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"Thus far, we don't see a correlation between unemployment insurance benefits and lack of employment," he said. Reuters OMITTED the rest of his statement: "However, we DO SEE a correlation between 'Mo' Money, Mo' Money' and the number of people who voted for us."
hd tv
hd tv May 07, 2021 12:22PM ET
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wasn't it Trump who handed out money before the election?
Connecticut Yankee
A_Jaundiced_Eye May 07, 2021 12:19PM ET
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Is it me, or is this (Bernstein) guy's hair a little whiter than it was yesterday?
Steve Lora
Steve Lora May 07, 2021 12:15PM ET
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Welfare Democrats
Julio AXA
Julio AXA May 07, 2021 12:13PM ET
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WHITE HOUSE YOU ARE THE BIGGEST MANIPULATION, QE = BIG MONEY LAUNDRY I THE STORY IN THE WORLD NOW
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel May 07, 2021 12:10PM ET
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Joe Biden is an embarrasment
 
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