Republicans blame unemployment benefit for poor jobs data

Washington: Faced with disappointing April jobs numbers, President Biden and key members of his administration rejected the notion put forth by Republicans that extending unemployment benefits had incentivized workers to remain out of the workforce.

After giving remarks on the slower than anticipated jobs growth last Friday, Biden batted down a question suggesting a link between slow employment numbers and expanded benefits.

“No, nothing measurable,” said Biden.

In his remarks, Biden argued that the April jobs report provided proof that Americans are more willing to work than earlier in the pandemic.

“Today’s report is a rebuttal to loose talk that Americans just don’t want to work. I know some employers are having trouble filling jobs. … Our economy still has 8 million fewer jobs than when this pandemic started. The data shows that more workers are looking for jobs, and many can’t find them,” said Biden.

Members of the president’s Cabinet echoed that message on Friday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told reporters that she did not believe the extension in unemployment benefits dissuaded workers from seeking employment.

Yellen admitted that a portion of Americans clearly have hesitations that would pause their re-entry into the labor force due to a cluster of reasons, including the lack of adequate childcare and fears of coronavirus exposure in the workplace.

Republicans have attempted to link expanded federal unemployment insurance payments of $300 per week, the equivalent of a $15,600 annual salary, to the inability of some businesses to fill positions. On Wednesday, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said he would be ending the extended benefits.

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