President Joe Biden defended his decision to extend increased checks to unemployed workers, despite a crushing jobs report showing unemployment rose last month for the first time since April 2020.
“Today’s report just underscores, in my view, how vital the actions we’re taking are,” Biden said. “Checks to people who are hurting.”
Biden’s bill extended additional $300 per week payments to unemployed workers, on top of state unemployment checks, into September of 2021.
When a reporter asked directly if he believed enhanced unemployment checks were causing the disappointing job numbers, Biden replied, “No. Nothing measurable.”
The president appeared 30 minutes late for his scheduled remarks at the White House on the jobs report, where he expected to trumpet the estimated creation of two million jobs during his first 100 days as president. The jobs report, however, showed unemployment ticked up to 6.1 percent and only 266,000 jobs were created.
Biden denied that his American Rescue Plan, which a partisan majority of Democrats in the Senate passed in March, was to blame.
“Today’s report is clear, thank goodness we passed the American Rescue Plan,” he said, calling the report a “rebuttal” to “the loose talk that Americans just don’t want to work.”
“I know some employers are having trouble filling jobs, but what this report shows is that there’s a much bigger problem,” he said.
Biden was clearly aware the report shocked economic analysts who were predicting a big jobs surge.
“Listening to commentators today, as I was getting dressed, you might think that we should be disappointed,” Biden said with a chuckle.
“This is progress,” he said. “And it’s a testament to our new strategy of growing this economy from the bottom up and the middle out.”