President Joe Biden claimed Monday that Americans wanted to go back to work, even as he warned workers against collecting expanded unemployment checks if they were actually offered a job.
“Americans want to work … I think the people who claim Americans won’t work even if they find a good and fair opportunity underestimate the American people,” said Biden at a speech on the economic recovery at the White House.
Jobs numbers grew slower than expected in April after Biden signed legislation expanding the expanded unemployment benefits in March until September. Unemployment ticked up to 6.1 percent.
Republicans continue voicing concerns from businesses trying to hire workers and blaming the expanded unemployment checks for keeping Americans out of the workforce.
But Biden struggled to push back against the idea that his expanded unemployment benefits were to blame.
“I know there’s been a lot of discussion since Friday’s report that people are being paid to stay home rather than go to work,” Biden said. “We don’t see much evidence of that.”
The president warned Americans living on unemployment that they would lose their checks if they had actually been offered a job.
“We’re going to make it clear that anyone collecting unemployment, who was offered a suitable job, must take the job or lose their unemployment benefits,” he said.
Biden appeared to address those concerns – even while stressing that it was not a major factor.
“No one should be allowed to game the system, and we’ll insist the law is followed,” he said.
Biden did not mention that many states waived the requirement to actively look for work in order to collect benefits during the coronavirus pandemic.
The president again blamed former President Donald Trump for extending the coronavirus pandemic, forcing Americans to stay unemployed long-term.
“They lost their job to a virus and to a government that bungled its response to a crisis and failed to protect them,” he said.
President Joe Biden also blamed employers for failing to provide large enough wages for unemployed Americans living off of expanded unemployment checks.
“People will come back to work if they are paid a decent wage,” Biden said.
He pointed out that Congress passed hundreds-of-billions of dollars for businesses during the pandemic to keep their employees on their payrolls.
“My expectation is, as our economy comes back, these companies will provide fair wages and safe work environments, and if they do they’ll find plenty of workers,” Biden said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki argued Monday that “fear” was keeping the American workforce at home.
“People are fearful about getting sick, they are fearful about whether they will have the conditions to be healthy, whether they can send their kids to a childcare center, whether there is a childcare center,” she said during the White House press briefing. “Those are all factors that are consistent with the examples and reasons I just provided.”
Biden said in the coming days he would focus on getting more money to the states to help pay for childcare so that both parents could go back to work.
“This is the largest investment in childcare since World War II,” he said.