Weak jobs report could be a risk or opportunity for Biden
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's promised economic comeback hit a speed bump Friday with the April jobs report, which found modest job gains of 266,000 that complicated his $4 trillion push on infrastructure, education and children.
The employment report failed to show that the U.S. economy was accelerating forward, so much as it appeared to be stutter-stepping along as the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.1%. Economists had projected roughly one million added jobs last month, and the modest hiring indicated that the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package has provided an uneven boost so far.
The figures present Biden with a fresh challenge at a critical moment in his presidency. He is betting that an open embrace of massive government spending will help resolve the nation's public health and financial turmoil — and lift the political prospects for Democrats heading into next year's elections. But the disappointing jobs numbers could also embolden his critics and stiffen the Republican resistance to the infrastructure package Biden is trying to push through Congress.
Addressing the report, Biden sought to ease concerns.
“We knew this wouldn't be a sprint—it'd be a marathon,” he said. The pandemic relief package “was designed to help us over the course of a year, not 60 days. A year. We never thought that after the first 50 or 60 days everything would be fine. Today, there’s more evidence our economy is moving in the right direction. But it’s clear we have a long way to go.”
Biden's opponents say the legislation actually worsened problems in at least one way, with expanded unemployment benefits that gave the jobless a reason to stay at home instead of seeking work.
The president said the jobs data don't show that. And advocates for his plans can argue that the...